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Introduction

The Global Legislators Organisation, known as GLOBE International, launched the GLOBE Natural Capital Initiative (GNCI) in September 2012 working with a group of legislators from seven countries to help promote the understanding and imple-mentation of the Natural Capital concept by national governments and across government departments. This initiative was part of the implementation of the Legislators' Protocol agreed by the 1st World Summit of Legislators in Rio de Janeiro in 2010. The initiative also hopes to work towards establishing an inter-national process for national legislators to support the development and imple-mentation of natural capital accounting.

The first phase of the GNCI runs from September 2012 to June 2013, and includes the production of this study, the first GLOBE Natural Capital Legislation Study. It aims to outline baseline legislation and policy in eight countries and to identify policy gaps, highlight good practice and encourage peer-to-peer learning. The study was prepared by the GLOBE International Secretariat, in consultation with country partners, with the exception of the Georgia chapter which was prepared by in-country partners.

In order to maximise the synergies of this work, the GNCI will primarily engage with parliaments from countries participating in the World Bank's Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Programme. These countries include Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Philippines. Peru and Georgia will also be involved in the GNCI, along with the United Kingdom and Germany, two of the leading developed countries on this subject. These eight countries represent a wide range of geographies and development levels in order to highlight the global relevance of natural capital accounting and demonstrate the importance of early and effective engagement with legislators in order to improve the awareness about natural capital issues within national parliaments.

The failure to value the many benefits that ecosystems provide humans has been identified as a major contributing factor to the deterioration of global ecosystems and consequently their capacity to support human well-being and sustainable economic growth. Natural capital accounting is a tool to help recognise and monitor the value of our ecosystems to humans, and to ensure that value is inte-grated into government decision-making.

To do this, three things are necessary:

  • Scientific information regarding the status and trends of natural capital;
  • Economic valuation methodologies to assign accurate values to natural capital;
  • Political leadership to ensure the integration of this value into policy processes.

The GNCI focuses on the last part of this process. The first two parts, while not yet complete or perfect, are sufficiently developed to make preliminary assessments of the real value of natural capital, particularly given the recent adoption of the SEEA in 2012 as an international statistical standard. The onus is now on political leader-ship to take the crucial steps towards an economy which recognises and takes into account the role of ecosystem services.