Local and global: better decisions for a better world

By David Wood, Senior Director, Policy Leadership, ICAS

30 August 2017

Edinburgh hosts the 3rd World Forum on Natural capital from 27-28 November 2017.

My attention was drawn to the Guest Blog from the Technical Director of the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) in the latest e-mail alert promoting the World Forum on Natural Capital which is being held in Edinburgh in November.

“What on earth has that got to do with me?” was my initial reaction. I wasn’t even 100% sure where Gaborone was, and might have guessed the Caribbean if it hadn’t been for the “A” in GDSA.

But increasingly, “our problems” are global problems – and issues such as climate change and the depletion of natural assets need to be resolved locally and globally, individually and collectively. So, if the GDSA is encouraging the 12 GDSA countries in Africa to recognise and better look after their natural environment, that is good for all of us.

Having just taken a holiday in Southern Africa, I should have known that Gaborone was the capital of Botswana. I did find out that the Southern African winter is nicer than the Scottish summer. But what also struck me was the loss of natural habitat as human populations have grown and needed more land for food.

The survival of many species of animal now seems to rely on private game reserves and busy National Parks, where there is an ongoing battle against poachers driven by their own poverty and the excessive prices paid in some parts of the world for animals and animal products such as rhino horn.

I was encouraged by what Governments are trying to do and GDSA would seem to provide the basis for collective action, but many economic and infrastructural challenges remain for these countries.

How accountants can help

Accountants have a key role in accountability. They facilitate the reporting of the impacts of businesses and other organisations on the natural environment and on their dependencies on nature’s resources.

The World Forum on Natural Capital will be focusing on how these things can be reported among other issues, as the world faces large scale urbanisation and the consequences of climate change and loss of habitat.

There are a number of both plenary and parallel sessions so that attendees can maximise the benefit of their attendance. The parallel streams are:

  • Taking Nature into Account – showcasing relevant case studies from business and finance, and looking at the opportunities and risks relating to impacts and dependencies on natural capital;
  • Impact through Innovation – how the latest innovations in technology, big data and finance are being used to help governments, businesses and NGOs make better long-term decisions;
  • Cities of Tomorrow – looking at the vital role of natural assets in the future design and financing of cities, in the light of rapid urbanisation and climate change; and
  • Prosperous and Resilient Economies – how policy making which reflects a more holistic approach to business and the economy can improve prosperity and resilience over the longer term.

ICAS members are entitled to a 20% discount on tickets. Please use the booking code: “2017ICAS20%”.


  • Business issues
  • Political landscape
  • Sustainability

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