Natural Capital Law aims at incorporating the valuation of natural capital in Costa Rican environmental legislation
On 27th November the Hon. Alfonso Pérez Gómez, President of GLOBE Costa Rica, tabled a Natural Capital Law in the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly.
The draft law, titled "Valuation of natural capital and integration of green accounting in planning for development", proposes to amend Costa Rica's Organic Law of the Environment of 1995 to introduce the requirement that, starting in 2016, environmental impact assessments (EIAs) will have to incorporate an economic valuation of the impact of new infrastructure or economic development projects on the national natural capital in Costa Rica. This will, in turn, increase awareness on how natural assets will be depleted and/or depreciated by the planned development.
This new economic assessment component of EIAs would be carried out on the basis of information about the economic values of ecosystems which should be made publicly available by the State. The corresponding compliance costs would be borne by the developer.
At present Costa Rica is part of a group of countries developing a pilot project on the economic valuation of natural capital assets under the World Bank WAVES Programme.
The WAVES Programme work in Costa Rica began in late 2011 and developed a work plan throughout 2012 alongside technical workshops. From 2013 to 2016 it will focus on consolidating the construction of two natural asset accounts, on water and on forests.
Hon. Alfonso Pérez Gómez said: "Today we can calculate the weight of exports in our GDP. We also know that our Constitution mandates to scale up investment in education to 8% of our GDP, but we do not know how much we are investing annually on the environment. So It is important to assign a value to the contribution to human welfare of natural assets, also to those which will be impacted by development projects.
"With these real economic values, Costa Rica will have good environmental accounting, make better decisions and develop better in the future, showing that the environment is also good business.
If this bill is passed Costa Rica would once again become a pioneer in environmental governance by adopting legislation foreseeing that the real economic viability of investments must be examined in the light of the information provided by natural capital accounting.