Natural resource accounting - an overview from a New Zealand perspective with special reference to the Norwegian experience
Early in 1989, the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment commissioned a small research project in order to set directions for work on natural resource accounting in this country. Three recommendations were made in the resulting report, and it is presented in three major parts. Each part corresponds to one of the recommendations, although the order differs. Part A (Sections 1 through 10) comprises an international overview. This part of the report is somewhat similar to the initial scoping report with definition(s) of "natural resource accounting" followed by categorisation and descriptions of various methodologies. Some material is reproduced where relevant. However, the survey of methodologies in this report goes into more detail and an emphasis is put on applications. The Norwegian experience in environmental accounting is examined in Part B (Sections 11 through 14). The Norwegians have been working on natural resource accounts for 15 years and their experience goes well beyond the academic. As with the international overview, I have included a large number of actual resource accounts. In Part C (Sections 15 through 18), I have not been able to act fully on the first recommendation. To do so would require a commitment to a particular resource accounting approach and the establishment of a team to do the job. Thus the report reflects a kind of odyssey - a voyage of discovery - that begins with the broad picture of an international overview, moves to the detail of one particularly useful experience, and finishes by drawing together material and insights relevant to the New Zealand situation. In my earlier report, I discussed the confusion caused by the use of the two terms "natural resource accounting" and "environmental accounting". It seems to me that the latter is a more general term and, therefore, a better choice when considering the overall problem of tracing links between the economy and the environment. Terms like "environmental capital" can be used to refer to stocks of sources like fish or coal, and stocks of sinks like clean air. Environmental accountants try to record the depletion of both. However, in the Norwegian system that is the subject of the second part of this report, "natural resource accounting" is used as the "umbrella" term and so, to avoid confusion, I have continued to use "natural resource accounting" in this way.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsenvironmental damage; natural resources; national income; environmental auditing; natural resources accounting; economic modelling; energy; pollution; environmental management
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