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Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Policy Applications of Natural Capital Accounts in the U.S.

Date and Time
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Policy Applications of Natural Capital Accounts in the U.S.


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In this National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP) webinar, listen to part two of our series on Natural Capital Accounts (NCA). The first covered piloting natural capital accounts for land, water, ecosystems, and urban ecosystem services.

During this webinar you’ll hear about three examples of policy applications for NCA. Eli Fenichel (Office of Science and Technology Policy) will share the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-level vision for natural capital accounting and associated environmental-economic accounts; Carter Ingram (The Pollination Group) will discuss opportunities for the private sector to utilize and support SEEA aligned natural capital accounts; and Kirsten Oleson (University of Hawaii) will introduce Hawaiʻi’s water and coastal accounts and the potential pathways to using them in economic policy, sustainability dashboards, and conservation planning.


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Eli Fenichel: Renewing US Leadership on Natural Capital Accounting and Environmental-Economic Statistics

The Biden-Harris Administration understands that nature is an important contributor to economic success, and on April 21, 2022, announced a new initiative to develop and maintain natural capital accounts and associated environmental-economic statistics for the United States. The U.S. has a long intellectual history of developing economic measurement that brings in the environment. The U.S. has pillars of strength to build on as it initiates work to coordinate natural capital accounting across the government. However, the U.S. has been slow to develop systematic natural capital accounts and associated environmental-economic statistics. This talk will address the Administration’s high-level vision for natural capital accounting and associated environmental-economic accounts, connections to the existing statistical system, how the administration’s new efforts build on existing strength within the U.S. Government, and why now is the time to organize the natural capital accounts of the United States.

Carter Ingram: Opportunities for the private sector to utilize and support SEEA aligned natural capital accounts

Current pilot SEEA-aligned NCA data and analyses developed for the United States can help address some of the common challenges that businesses face in using natural capital data such as accessibility, quality, and credibility, important for business decision making. This talk will address some of the direct applications of these accounts for business strategic planning, investment decisions, supply chain management, operations management, risk management, and corporate reporting. In addition, the discussion will address improvements needed to fill data gaps and produce estimates aligned to the to business needs.

Kirsten Oleson: Experiences with natural capital accounting in Hawaiʻi

As one of the most isolated places on Earth, Hawaiʻi must carefully manage its natural resources. This research explores how natural capital accounts can contribute to sustainable management of two precious resources: water and coastal ecosystems. This talk will discuss results for Oʻahuʻs water account, current efforts in coastal ecosystem accounting, and the potential pathways to using the accounts in economic policy, sustainability dashboards, and conservation planning.


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Dr. Eli Fenichel is the Assistant Director for Natural Resource Economics and Accounting at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is on leave from Yale University where he is the Knobloch Family Professor of Natural Resource Economics. He has written extensively on valuing natural capital and on environmental-economic accounting including co-leading the High-Level Panel for the Sustainable Ocean Economy Blue Paper on Ocean Accounting and advised the development of the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting- Ecosystem Accounts.

Carter Ingram is an Executive Director at Pollination where she supports public and private sector clients focused on food, fiber and agriculture and other nature-dependent sectors with developing and implementing climate change and natural capital strategies and initiatives. She has over 20 years of experience at the forefront of integrating nature into sustainable development across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States. Prior to joining Pollination, Carter was a Senior Manager in EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice where she advised food/agriculture, real estate, infrastructure and tourism businesses in designing and implementing ESG and nature-based goals and strategies, programs and impact measurement/management. Carter is currently an Adjunct Associated Professor in the School for Foreign Service at Georgetown University and serves on the Advisory Group for Terra Alpa Investments, the SNAPP Science Advisory Council, the Technical Advisory Council for the UNDP Equator Initiative, served on the International Working Group for the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, and recently co-led a USG working group on developing pilot Natural Capital Accounting in the United States.

Kirsten Oleson is an Associate Professor of Ecological Economics with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her research programʻs over-arching goal is to ensure that the value of nature is captured in national, state, and community decision-making. She engages with national and state policy makers and local communities over a wide range of resource management, economic development, and conservation issues that are of direct and urgent relevance to the state of Hawaiʻi and other Pacific Islands, such as food security, climate adaptation, and sustainable economic growth.