Last month ten African nations, led by Botswana, pledged to incorporate “natural capital” into their economies. Natural capital, which seeks to measure the economic worth of the services provided by ecosystems and biodiversity—for example pollination, clean water, and carbon—is a nascent, but growing, method to curtail environmental damage and ensure more sustainable development. Dubbed the Gaborone Declaration, the pledge was signed by Botswana, Liberia, Namibia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania following a two day summit.
“We leave this Summit with a strong and robust commitment to give life to the good ideas that came from the debates, and to scale up the commitments contained in the Gaborone Declaration across the whole African continent and indeed the wider world,” Ian Khama, President of Botswana, said at the end of the summit.
The signing of the pledge came less than a month before the UN’s Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, which marks twenty years since the landmark environmental summit in Rio in 1992.
The Gaborone Declaration declares that “the historical pattern of natural resources exploitation has failed to promote sustained growth, environmental integrity and improved social capital.” Noting that the Africa’s people and economy are imperiled by ecosystem destruction , the leaders pledge to protect ecosystems and biodiversity from “overuse and degradation.”
To do so, they commit to adding natural capital into “national accounting and corporate planning.” In addition, the ten countries pledged to transition major sectors (agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and mining) towards sustainable practices and to restore degraded ecosystems.