By Emmanuel Elebeke
An official in the Ministry of Finance has said any system that does not have natural capital accounting is failing even if GDP is growing.
Also, an Acting Director for Economic Growth in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Aso Vakporaye, has called on the government and other relevant authorities to initiate the application of natural capital accounting to the country’s planning process, saying it was an important mechanism in the diversification of the economy.
They spoke at a two-day workshop for Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, and members of parliament, MPs on “Mainstreaming Natural Capital Accounting into Nigeria’s Development Plan’’.
The event was organised in Abuja by the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment, GLOBE, Nigeria, in conjunction with the Federal Government, United Nation Environment Programme and others.
He said the accounting system could come in physical or monetary terms, stressing it would help Nigeria diversify its oil-based economy.
Natural capital economy is the process of calculating the stocks and flows of natural resources and services in a given ecosystem.
He said: “More income will be generated, we will fulfill the aspect of food security and we will have enough to feed Nigerians. We can put things together and can be exporting some of them.
“There are so many natural resources we can utilise to grow the economy. No doubt, even if there is no fossil fuel, these are enough to create income for national development.
“It is, therefore, important to provide detailed statistics for better management of these natural resources that contribute to economic development.”
Also speaking, the National Coordinator, GLOBE, Nigeria, Mr. Nnaemeka Oruh, emphasised the need to also apply the principles of natural capital accounting to protect the ecosystem.
“In addition, the process can subsequently inform government, corporate and consumer decision making as each relate to the use or consumption of natural resources and land.
“While we are trying to develop our Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, it is important that we apply the principles of natural capital accounting to assist Nigeria’s development plan.
“What we are doing is to ensure that government pays attention to the environment which is the bedrock of the economy.
“The country’s economy cannot survive without the environment; what we have been doing is taking from the environment without curtailing the plundering of the environment.
“We should take into consideration that when you take you should do something to replenish,’’ he said.
In his contribution, the Head, Natural Eco Capital, Dr Eugene Itua warned against unnecessary felling of trees without replacement, saying it affects the ecosystem.
He also said that the natural accounting system would boost Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products, GDP.
“We don’t measure it in our Gross Domestic Products (GDP); we go to the forest, fell down the trees, we use water, we use energy but we don’t take account of all that. All we do to just use.
“For a system that does not take account of this, even if your GDP is growing, you are actually failing.
“For Nigeria, the quest for sustainable management of her natural resources requires the adoption of a governance approach that accounts for the impacts of economic development on natural resources and environmental sustainability and subsequently integrate such knowledge into policies and decisions.
“Succeeding requires evidence-based policy development and decision making informed and reinforced by integrated information gathering.”