Building a green recovery – Natural Capital Accounting

Jun 18, 2020

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital (INFC) today launched a vivid, fun animated video to explain ‘natural capital accounting’.

Natural capital accounting is a standardised method to assess nature’s stocks and the flows of services that these assets contribute to humanity. Natural capital accounts can help decision makers to better understand how the environment impacts the economy – and vice versa.

The video is part of the INCASE project, funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency. It builds on the momentum for a green recovery from the global pandemic as well the EU's Green Deal. INCASE is the first project of its kind to study the practical application of Natural Capital Accounting in Ireland, bringing together natural scientists, economists and statisticians.

The IFNC provides a range of resources on the latest developments on natural capital - in Ireland and across the world. 

Natural Capital Accounting

Natural Capital Accounting is a system for organising information about our ‘natural capital’ to help decision-makers understand how the environment interacts with the economy. ‘Natural capital’ frames the world's resources like plants, animals, water, and minerals as assets or stocks that yield a flow of benefits to people. Measuring these resources to show their benefits to society and the economy and to support more sustainable decision-making is described as the ‘Natural Capital Approach’. 

The UN has a standard for this type of accounting, called the SEEA, or the System of Environmental-Economic Accounts. 

Sustainability at Chartered Accountants Ireland

Chartered Accountants Ireland is working on embedding sustainability throughout our activities, encompassing Climate Action under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 13). Our strategy reflects our ambition to build a more sustainable profession and institute in all aspects of our work.  

  • Our Advocacy and Voice Board is invested in driving the Institute’s agenda on sustainability. It mandated the establishment within Chartered Accountants Ireland of a Sustainability Expert Working Group, to inform the development of research for the accountancy profession in Ireland. This working group comprises representatives from accounting firms, government organisations and NGOs, academia, business, professional accounting organisations, and the energy, banking sector and technology sectors. 
  • Institute representatives sit on the Sustainability Working Group of the Global Accounting Alliance, and through this we are a member of the Accounting Bodies Network of “Accounting for Sustainability” (A4S). A4S is Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project and was established in 2004 with the aim of promoting sustainable decision-making in business. The Institute was one of 14 accounting bodies worldwide to become signatories to a call to action on climate change issued by A4S in February 2020.
  • On June 16 the Institute responded to the public consultation on the EU’s Non-Financial Reporting Directive. This Directive lays down the rules on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large public-interest companies, who have been required to non-financial statements in their annual reports from 2018 onwards.
  • Through Chartered Accountants Worldwide we are also involved in a range of initiatives including FinBiz.
  • We have integrated sustainability into the student curriculum, with the introduction of Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability and Integrated Reporting as a topic area within Topic Area 4 Risk management & Sustainability. 
  • Through our District Society activities we are running a series webinars on the topic of sustainability, the most recent being the June 4 event ‘Investigating Sustainability in the Current Climate’. 
  • Sustainability is also included as a topic area in our CPD programme. 
  • Within the Institute itself, there is an established team-driven CSR programme

    For more information about sustainability and climate action in Chartered Accountants Ireland, contact Public Policy Officer Susan Rossney.