Yaounde, 02 February 2024 (ECA) – "No Central African country, despite the Congo Basin’s enormous natural resource endowments, has an economic and environmental accounting system. An integrated, participatory approach is needed to appropriate this tool and make it a lever for mobilizing project financing", emphasized Mr. Nebiyeleul Gessese, during the sub-regional dialogue on the theme "natural capital accounting, greenhouse gas inventory, nature-based solutions, sustainable finance mobilisation: concepts, tools, methodologies, winning business models at your fingertips", as a prelude to the ECA’s 56th session of the Conference of Ministers.
To enrich the calculation of gross domestic product (GDP) with the environmental dimension, Central African countries need to develop economic and environmental accounting systems. The aim of updating GDP is to broaden the fiscal space and improve the positioning of African countries in climate negotiations. To achieve this, participants in the webinar recommended sub-regional cooperation to promote information sharing between countries, mastery of the concept and the technical and technological requirements associated with it. We will need to invest in the adaptation and harmonization of legal frameworks in order to link them to climate challenges, the design of measurement tools that will facilitate the qualification of statistically quantifiable assets, and capacity building through targeted training of stakeholders according to the role expected of each of them. The involvement of all stakeholders (public, private, civil society) remains imperative for collective appropriation of the tool and its uses. Participants also stressed the importance of data reliability. To this end, they called for collaboration with world-renowned dynamics.
For effective implementation of all these recommendations, countries were advised to draw up strategic advocacy documents, in this case the National Plan for the Development of Economic and Environmental Accounting (PNDCEE), like that of Cameroon.
In Central Africa, there are a number of obstacles to be overcome in the field of natural capital inventory and measurement.
In Cameroon, the first steps in this long process were taken with the support of the ECA, through the experimental development of a table of physical resources and uses of wood (TREP). With a view to better integrating economic and environmental statistics into the GDP, the CEA supported the country in defining the PNDCEE, in 2023. The process of domestication of the Plan by the national authorities is underway and will ensure its effective implementation. However, challenges remain in terms of the availability and quality of sectoral data, as well as an inadequate regulatory framework.
In Gabon, the first attempt to develop forest accounts as an approach to valuing ecosystem services was fraught with pitfalls. Challenges to overcome include difficulties in accounting for ecosystem services and collecting related data, the need for transparency and the credibility of the measurement system. Gabon also faces the problem of insufficient human and financial resources to carry out its inventories.
Taking the floor at the end of the debates, Adama Coulibaly, Head of Sub-Regional Initiatives at the ECA's Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa, invited countries, organizations and the private sector to join "the platform currently being set up, which will be a repository of knowledge, tools, contacts, sources of financing and existing funds" for the valorisation of natural capital in Central Africa.
COP28, held in Dubai in December 2023, once again demonstrated the mismatch between the financing mobilized for climate stabilization and the expectations of countries in the South, including those in Central Africa. The climate fund has only managed to mobilize $750 million of the $450 billion a year needed. "Africa must take its destiny into its own hands to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the valorisation of its natural capital, which concentrates solutions for innovative financing of industrialization, green job niches against vulnerability and unemployment, and levers for a better transition and green economy, guarantees of the sustainability of the development model adopted", concluded Jean-Luc Mastaki, Director of the ECA's Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa.
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