Britain to Urge Green Accounting at Rio+20

Friday, February 10, 2012 Print Email

The UK will urge businesses and governments to start accounting for natural capital as an additional way of measuring economic activity at this summer’s UN Rio+20 conference in Brazil.

Speaking at the London Guildhall on Thursday 9 February 2012, to green groups and businesses, environment secretary Caroline Spelman said the UK will be seeking agreement to move away from using GDP as the sole indicator of progress in government accounts. The proposal, known as GDP+, would encourage countries to also measure and account for the value of their natural resources and the social wellbeing of their people.

The UK will work with Colombia and others to develop and drive forward the proposal for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are expected to encourage and guide international and domestic efforts on major sustainability issues, such as food security, water, and access to sustainable energy.

Currently, the UK is leading the way in this area through initiatives such as the PM’s work to assess wellbeing, the Natural Capital Committee which has been set up to take stock of natural resources, and the work of the Office of National Statistics to embed natural capital into UK environmental accounts by 2020.

Alan McGill, partner, PwC and specialist in environmental reporting comments: ‘The long term goal of a more integrated set of accounts for the UK is ambitious, but necessary. We will see a shift from the current focus on just financial models, to a green GDP model, incorporating both dependency and impact on the environment. At the moment, we’re measuring growth, but not impact, and a new reporting model will give us a more complete picture overall’.

‘Getting business reporting on natural assets and environmental impacts such as emissions would be a critical first step in the UK getting a proper accounting handle on its dependency and impact on natural assets’.

The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will take place from June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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