Nigeria Takes Step to Mainstream Natural Capital in System of National Accounting

Nigeria, a West African Country, is blessed with enormous natural capital, including forests covering about 3,316,821 hectares of land; fisheries, rivers wildlife and water. While the true value and contributions of natural capital is not known, brazen depletions continue to occur without reflection in Nigeria’s system of national accounts. Other African countries with similar experience, including, South Africa, Botswana and Uganda have taken steps to protect their ecological services by mainstreaming natural capital accounting in their System of Natural Accounting (SNA) but this is not the case with Nigeria. 

In 2015, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) developed a pilot energy framework and mineral resources account, it has not been published. With support from UNIDO and funded by the GEF Nigeria conducted economic valuation studies to value marine sectors and marine ecosystem services under the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) in 2009 and in 2020, the GPS/WAVES program of the World Bank funded the Cost of Coastal and Environmental Degradation (COED) study for three states (Delta, Cross River and Lagos) of eight coastal states. Nigeria is actively involved in the NCA community of practice and fully participated in the 2018 international NCA forum and policy dialogues during the Natural Capital Week in Paris and the 2019 Africa Forum on Natural Capital Workshop.  

To facilitate the incorporation and mainstreaming of natural capital and ecosystem services accounts into the Nigeria’s SNA, a two-day training workshop was organized for technical staff of relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from December 2-3, 2020 at Top Rank Hotel, Area 11, Garki Abuja. The training workshop attracted over 60 participants from the Federal Ministries of Environment; Finance, Planning and Budget; Mines and Steel Development; Water Resources, and Agriculture and Rural Development, National Bureau of Statistics, and Nigeria REDD+ Secretariat, among others. Speakers and Resource persons were drawn from the Australian National University, University of Nigeria Nsukka, the World Bank, British High Commission, Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa, GLOBE Nigeria, and Natural Eco Capital.

The outcome of the training was a call for Nigeria to give priority to the treatment of its Natural Capital as a valuable resource for sustainable development, develop a road map followed by a National Action Plan on Natural Capital Accounting, give legislative backing to Natural Capital Accounting process, and join the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA), and other global initiatives that are supporting the valuation and incorporation of Natural capital into public and private sector policies and decision making. It is expected that the country would, in the coming months, develop a road map followed by a National Action Plan on Natural Capital Accounting and give legislative backing to Natural Capital Accounting process.

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor had assured of the willingness of her Ministry to pursue a policy that should “direct the adoption of a governance approach that accounts for the impact of economic development on natural resources and environmental sustainability”. Ikeazor saw no reason why Nigeria’s natural capital would neither be captured in the financial calculation of Nigeria’s wealth nor explicitly considered as assets in national planning. The World Bank equally indicated its willingness to ensure that Nigeria’s natural capital are properly accounted for.  Sofia Elizbeth said that she was looking forward to receiving Nigeria into the league of African countries that had adopted the accounting procedure. “The United Kingdom would be pleased to share its experience of natural capital accounts, and help develop innovative approaches and consistent data methodologies with Nigeria”, Sean Melbourne, the Head, Climate Change & Energy, West Africa, British High Commission, Abuja said.  With the interest shown by the Nigerian government and international organisations on the issue, the Director of REPRC-EfD Nigeria, Dr Nnaemeka Chukwuone, said that his Centre was going to follow-up on the recommendations of the delegates to ensure that Nigeria’s System of National Accounting considers her natural capital.