Natural capital accounting perspectives: a pragmatic way forward

Kerry Turner, Tomas Badura*, Silvia Ferrini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Recent debates surrounding the application of natural capital accounting (NCA) have produced several approaches to further develop this system, as well as highlighted a number of conceptual and methodological issues that need to be resolved before mainstreaming NCA into policy and decision making. We argue that prolonged debate over the value concepts (i.e., exchange versus other values) underpinning different modifications to NCA has slowed progress in experimentation and uptake by policymakers.Outcomes: Consequently we propose three broad approaches which can be progressed in parallel to reinvigorate experimentation with the NCA principles and practice, while at the same time generating policy relevant tools and evidence bases for decision support. The three approaches are; extended SNA accounting anchored to the use of exchange values; a complementary accounts network (CAN) that utilizes plural values as supplementary accounts to the SNA system; and wealth accounting that focuses on measures of welfare and wellbeing. The three approaches are complementary and data developed in any one can inform the other two.Conclusions: We contend that CAN offers the most flexibility and opportunities to progress short term support for decision making on environmental issues which are now becoming urgent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-241
Number of pages5
JournalEcosystem Health and Sustainability
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge funding by the European Commission “Technical support for the development of Natural Capital Accounting” (contract No 070202/2016/741033/SER/ENV.D3). This text builds on two reports written for this project, as well as helpful comments from the KIP-INCA partners.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis Group and Science Press on behalf of the Ecological Society of China.


  • ecosystem accounting
  • exchange values
  • Natural capital accounting
  • SEEA
  • wealth accounting
  • welfare values


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