The Case for Natural Capital Accounting by Andrew Coote & Veronica I. Castillo

Case studies in the Philippines demonstrate the importance of timely geospatial information in natural capital accounting, which harmonizes environmental sustainability with economic exigencies.

When gauging living standards, there is a strong case to be made for natural capital accounting to complement gross domestic product (GDP). So what is natural capital, and how can geospatial professionals play a role? As illustrated by case studies in the Philippines, natural capital accounting is imperative in harmonizing environmental sustainability with economic exigencies, and timely geospatial information is crucial.

Gross domestic product (GDP) indicates how much monetary income or output a country creates in a year. When politicians talk about the standard of living, growth or recession, and make comparisons with other countries, they tend to rely heavily on GDP as one of the key indicators in the ‘national accounts’. The problem is that GDP is an incomplete measure of living standards as it does not account for factors like health, environmental quality and social well-being. In other words, GDP is only a partial indicator of a nation’s wealth over the long term, and rising GDP does not necessarily mean that living standards are improving.

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