GDP to consider sustainability of natural resources  

Participants at the inception workshop

The country is seeking to include biodiversity losses, climate change-related costs and other environmental factors in its conventional gross domestic product (GDP).

The current standard GDP does not account for whether the level of income created in the country is sustainable or not, which is where the concept of green GDP comes in.

However, Edward Asuo Afram – Director of Economic Statistics at Ghana Statistical Services (GSS), said green GDP remains vital to the country’s economy and local livelihoods.

“Our GDP will be fully taking into account all the natural resources we are using for production. This will guide the country to develop policies for guiding the use of its natural resources,” Mr. Afram told the B&FT in Accra.

He spoke on the side-lines of a workshop to strengthen capacity in natural capital accounting for sustainable development in the country, and added that threats from land-use conversions, habitat degradation and illegal mining have negatively affected Ghana’s natural capital and hindered sustainable development.

The Director of Economic Statistics also noted the need to better integrate the multiple benefits which nature provides into development planning, policy and formulation of programmes to address these threats. To achieve this, he said, processes aimed at institutionalising Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) have already begun.

By organising and integrating information on the environment into the economy and society, NCA can assist decision-makers in the evaluation and monitoring of different development and biodiversity management interventions, as well as assessing progress toward policy targets and policy formulation.

By definition, natural capital accounts are a set of objective data on the stock of natural resources, including environmental assets and the flow of benefits they provide. They provide detailed integrated statistics on how natural resources contribute to the economy, and how the economy affects natural resources.

Mr. Afram added that the United Nations Statistical division has developed a framework that countries use to compile this green GDP, from which Ghana should be able to get all the methods and procedures involved and be able to compile and publish such a report.

He also stated that by next year the country should be able to produce a report on green GDP, which will disclose the state of its natural resources and the rate at which they are being used. Overall, the country’s move to adopt green GDP reflects the growing recognition of how important it is to take into account environmental factors when measuring economic growth.

Joint efforts

To strengthen the country’s current national accounting system and integrate biodiversity-related natural capital, the GSS, Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) have secured joint funding to implement the project: Strengthening Capacity in Natural Capital Accounting for Sustainable Development in Ghana.

The project is being funded by the UK Darwin Initiative and will be completed in March 2024. The Darwin Initiative funds projects around the world to deliver improved outcomes for biodiversity, while supporting poverty reduction and sustainable development.

It is expected that integrating natural capital accounting into the national accounting system will provide decision-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions about use and management of the country’s natural resources to promote sustainable development.

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