Natural Capital Forum

Is Economic Valuation of Biodiversity Necessary for Successful Conservation?

The debate on whether biodiversity should be economically valued remains highly polarized and a more nuanced contextual approach is required. This method is essential for successful conservation as it calls for integration of biodiversity-related data in policy making and decisions. However, there are barriers to operationalizing this and economic metaphors such as ‘natural capital’ and ‘ecosystem services’ are yet to enter mainstream economic and political decision-making. Although the approach needs to be developed further, it is on a promising step towards striking a balance between environmental, social and economic objectives.

Changing How We Think About Economic Growth and Nature

Earlier this year, Sri Lanka’s census and statistics department released a new version of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculation. The existing National Accounts had been ‘rebased’ from the year 2010 to the year 2015. In explaining the re-basing, the department noted that “a number of improvements” to GDP compilation was done, the first item on the list was ‘Inclusion of generated value addition from the reclaimed land of Colombo Port city project’. The fact that the creation of an 269 hectare artificial land parcel attached to the capital, with sand extracted from nature, materially changed the country’s GDP base was startling. It triggered within us, again, a growing discontent we have felt for a while on how we think about economic growth and an unease with how we assess progress. For some years now, stemming from a love for the natural world, interest in biodiversity, and enthusiasm for photography, we had begun to think about critical issues with our current approach to economic growth. Particularly, there was little appreciation for the value of nature - for instance the emerging agenda of the valuation of natural capital.

Introducing Sri Lankan corporates to climate risk disclosure standards

In mid-January 2022, the Centre for a Smart Future - under its 'Natural Capital Forum' initiative - collaborated with the Climate Disclosure Standards Board in the UK and the Colombo Stock Exchange to bring new accounting and analytical tools to Sri Lankan corporates. With practice facilitation and outreach by CSF to the CDSB, Sri Lankan listed and unlisted companies were able to learn about new accounting, reporting and disclosure standards relating to climate risks, for the first time in the country. The Colombo Stock Exchange(CSE) organized the training programme, which saw participation of nearly 200 participants. The programme was supported by the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative(SSE)

SMARTER SUSTAINABILITY:
Shift to Organic Agriculture Must be Staged and Strategic – Agri Expert

Sri Lanka's President announced a policy directive of moving to 100% organic farming this year, and an immediate ban on importing any chemical fertilisers and agro-chemicals. Since the announcement, there has been a fervent debate on the decision, ranging from fears around food security and impacts on exports, to a celebration of the potential to create a unique value for the country. In our first video interview in the 'Smarter Sustainability' series agriculture economist Chatura Rodrigo discusses how to manage the transition better, implications for farmers, and gaps in the policymaking process.

ECONOMICS x ENVIRONMENT:
Are Marine Conservation and Sri Lanka’s Maritime Hub Ambitions Compatible?

In this interview in the 'Economics x Environment' series of Smart Future Forum (SFF), Nishan Perera - Sri Lanka's leading marine ecologist, an avid diver and underwater photographer - shares some vital insights  on. Nishan is a marine ecologist with an interest in coral reef ecology and Marine Protected Area management. He is a co-founder of Blue Resources Trust, a Sri Lankan marine research organization, where he currently heads the coral reef programme.  His recent work has included research on impacts of climate change on coral reefs, small scale fisheries management and supporting Marine Protected Area management in Sri Lanka. He has previously worked with IUCN, Project Seahorse and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.

SMARTER SUSTAINABILITY:
Sri Lanka Must Use GSP+ for
Smarter Positioning on Sustainability

When Sri Lanka regained the GSP+ trade concessions to the EU, exporters from a range of sectors got a renewed opportunity to compete in this lucrative market. Yet, prospects for future growth will rely on Sri Lanka boosting its sustainability and governance credentials, to position exports more strongly, for the longer term. In this interview in the Smarter Sustainability series, Anisha Rajapakse explores key issues for Sri Lanka in strengthening its positioning as a trusted and preferred sourcing location for EU buyers, using GSP+ and beyond.