Natural capital accounting is the latest effort to financialise our air, water, forests and land by putting a price on nature to save it. In the name of sustainable economic development, focusing on our natural capital, or environmental “assets”, the theory claims that if private companies and countries account for environmental resources used in the production of other goods – accounting for their cost to the environment – we can better see the sustainability of our current economic path. The hope is that this knowledge leads us to mitigate the chances of degrading natural resources beyond their renewable capacity.
We should not be fooled by the claims of natural capital accounting. It is not the solution it appears to be. Natural capital accounting is plagued with myriad problems. To implement it requires assigning a financial value to nature, privatising it and commodifying it — bringing the environment under economic control. The implications of this are far-reaching and include serious consequences for sustainability, the governance of nature and important democratic processes. In effect, natural capital accounting will shift protection of the environment from the public to corporate and financial interests.
Read the full report of Food and Water Europe