Natural capital accounting to support development

Finland is willing to share  its best forestry practices so that local communities are empowered, forestry cooperation is improved, local environment and biodiversity are protected and employment opportunities created, minister Hautala stated in a panel discussion on sustainable development in World Bank’s Annual meeting in Tokyo.[:]

President Kim, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to share with you a practical example of natural capital accounting which has helped to transform Finland, a particularly forest-rich country, from a relatively poor, agrarian, post-conflict society to a modern knowledge economy over the past 100 years.

It has always been evident that forests are an essential part of our national wealth. Therefore we have developed tools for measuring its contribution to the economy and welfare. Our forest inventory is much in demand by our developing country partners such as Tanzania and Nepal.

Our forest accounts describe changes in the forest resources and flows of wood material, as well as their economic values. Besides wood resources, the accounts also cover other benefits derived from forests as well as data relating to forest areas. Based on this methodology, we know very well what resources we have and what income and values they produce. Needless to say, this also creates the necessary transparency and accountability. Proper inventory and monitoring of forest resources helps to make sure that these resources are used sustainably and legally. It also helps to ensure the transparency of the benefits that these resources produce.

Finland is committed to continuing to share our method of forest inventory and best forestry practices with our partner countries bilaterally and on the international development agenda. Working together we can support our partners in mapping their forest resources, identifying the various ways in which forest resources are used, and can be used sustainably, by local communities and private sector actors. As a result local communities have been empowered, forestry cooperation has improved, local environment and biodiversity been protected and employment opportunities created.

Along the lines of the human rights based approach to development I want to emphasize that it is important to respect the rights of the local communities to the use and benefits of natural resources in their areas.

To finish, I would like to encourage the World Bank and the UN to continue working together on this important part of the green economy agenda, natural capital accounting.