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«ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT The Changing Wealth of Nations ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT A fundamental element of sustainable development is ...»

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Notes 1 For reviews of the resource curse literature, see, for example, Auty (1993), Barma, Kaiser, and Le (2010); Frankel (2010); and Humphreys, Sachs, and Stiglitz (2007).

2 A “fair” share of rents is not always easy to establish. The rent generated by a commodity, such as gold, can vary enormously across countries because of the nature of the reserves, local conditions that affect the cost of mining (including perceived risk due to domestic conditions), and volatility in world market commodity prices. In some countries a highrisk premium is legitimately included in the cost of mining. Rents from oil and gas are almost always positive and large.

3 Transparency leads to good governance through active participation of a well-informed society using transparency of information to hold decision makers to account. This process from transparency to good governance requires a well-functioning civil society.

4 Although Dye and Stapenhurst (1998) focused their attention on supply-side accountability—for example, through audit offices and structures of accountability—this chapter stresses the importance of both supply-side and demand-side (or bottom-up) accountability processes.

5 The role of the public sphere in ensuring accountability is complex. The public sphere is not a single, unified area in which information is disseminated and discussed; multiple, fractured public spheres often exist. Furthermore, in many countries participation is limited by restrictions on free speech or by lack of knowledge and engagement.

6 For a comprehensive introduction to the value chain approach, see Alba (2009).

7 The EITI++ is not a formalized independent initiative in the mold of EITI; rather, it complements EITI’s focus on transparency in reporting revenues by offering a slate of coordinated options for improved management of resource wealth.

8 For a full list of member countries and their status, see the EITI website at http://www.eiti.org.

References Alba, Eleodoro Mayorga. 2009. “Extractive Industries Value Chain: A Comprehensive Integrated Approach to Developing Extractive Industries.” Extractive Industries for Development Series 3/Africa Region Working Paper 125, World Bank, Washington, DC.

Auty, Richard M. 1993. Sustaining Development in Mineral Economies: The Resource Curse Thesis. New York: Routledge.

Bannon, Ian, and Paul Collier, eds. 2003. Natural Resources and Violent Conflict: Options and Actions. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Barma, N., K. Kaiser, and T. M. Le. 2010. “Rents to Riches? The Political Economy of Natural Resources Led Development.” World Bank, Washington, DC.


Botswana. 2007. “Towards Mineral Accounts for Botswana.” Department of Environmental Affairs and Centre for Applied Research, Gaborone.

Brahmbhatt, M., O. Canuto, and E. Vostroknutova. 2010. “Natural Resources and Development Strategy after the Crisis.” In The Day After Tomorrow: The Future of Economic Policy in the Developing World, ed. Otaviano Canuto and Marcelo Giugale, 101–18. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Campbell, Bonnie. 2003. “Factoring in Governance Is Not Enough: Mining Codes in Africa, Policy Reform and Corporate Responsibility.” Minerals and Energy 18 (3): 2–13.

Collier, Paul. 2008. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done about It. New York: Oxford University Press.

Collier, Paul, and Anthony J. Venables. 2009. “Natural Resources and State Fragility.” OxCarre Research Paper 31, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, U.K.

Dye, Kenneth, and R. Stapenhurst. 1998. Pillars of Integrity: Importance of Supreme Audit Institutions in Curbing Corruption. Washington, DC: World Bank Institute.

Eifert, Ben, Alan Gelb, and Nils Borje Tallroth. 2002. “The Political Economy of Fiscal Policy and Economic Management in Oil Exporting Countries.” Policy Research Working Paper 2899, World Bank, Washington, DC.

Frankel, Jeffrey A. 2010. “The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey.” NBER Working Paper 15836, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA. http://www.nber.org/ papers/w15836.

Hilson, G., and R. Maconachie. 2009. ‘‘‘Good Governance’ and the Extractive Industries in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Review 30 (1): 52–100.

Humphreys, Macartan, Jeffrey Sachs, and Joseph Stiglitz, eds. 2007. Escaping the Resource Curse. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lange, G. 2004. “Wealth, Natural Capital, and Sustainable Development: Contrasting

Examples from Botswana and Namibia.” Environmental and Resource Economics 29 (3):


Lange, G., and M. Wright. 2004. “Sustainable Development in Mineral Economies: The Example of Botswana.” Environment and Development Economics 9 (4): 485–505.

Le Billon, Philippe. 2001. “The Political Ecology of War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflicts.” Political Geography 20 (5): 561–84.


Country Experiences with Wealth Accounting


Bank, other agencies and individual scholars have done a considerable amount of work on wealth accounting over the past two decades. Taken together, these studies have deepened our knowledge of wealth accounting and have clarified issues related to it. Along with the study by Hamilton and Clemens (1999), economists Kenneth Arrow, Partha Dasgupta, and Karl-Göran Mäler have achieved substantial theoretical advances in comprehensive wealth accounting for sustainable development, reporting their findings in a series of publications.

The academic community and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have produced a large body of empirical work on natural capital accounting at the national, regional, and local levels.

Wealth accounting has also been taken up by national government agencies, by international organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat, and by the United Nations Statistical Commission as part of a comprehensive framework for environmental accounting. The recent report by Stiglitz, Sen, and Fitoussi (2009) proposed ways to modify and extend conventional national accounts in order to provide a more accurate and useful guide for policy. These authors endorsed the comprehensive wealth approach to development and the compilation of accounts for certain categories of capital.


This chapter reports the progress on wealth accounting by national government agencies, focusing particularly on natural capital. While the contribution of academics, NGOs, and other researchers is important, the implementation of wealth accounting by national governments is necessary for long-term institutionalization of the accounts. Although the World Bank will continue to compile and improve global wealth accounts, the eventual goal is for countries to implement wealth accounting themselves under standard guidelines.

Compared to intergovernmental organizations, countries have much greater resources and access to information that enables them to compile more accurate and comprehensive wealth accounts. Once they are engaged in this task, the role of the World Bank would be to collect this information, as it does data on gross domestic product (GDP) and other national economic indicators, for publication in reports such as World Development Indicators.

The country experience with wealth accounting is quite varied. The most comprehensive wealth accounting is done by Norway, which was also the first country to introduce environmental accounting on a regular basis as part of official statistics in the late 1970s. For the most part, however, countries have introduced limited asset accounts for select natural resources, most often only for subsoil assets and, among the subsoil assets, most often for oil and natural gas. An important parallel development has been the compilation of a system for environmental accounting, including wealth accounts, under the aegis of the United Nations Statistical Commission; it is known as the System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting, or SEEA (United Nations et al. 2003).

The compilation of guidelines for wealth accounting is critical for international acceptance; it establishes consensus on methodology and international comparability for work carried out by national statistical agencies and the policy agencies that use the accounts.

The concept of national balance sheets and wealth accounting has been part of national accounts for some time and was explicitly identified in the 1993 System of National Accounts. However, as we will see, wealth accounting has not yet been widely implemented.

Current Country Practices Table 8.1 provides an overview of current country practices in national wealth accounting. It focuses on the real economy, breaking down data by the types of nonfinancial assets covered. This assessment of country practices provides a conservative picture of the state of wealth accounting because the set of countries included has been restricted in several ways.

First, countries are included only when wealth accounting is carried out as part of, or in relation to, an official statistics program under the auspices of a


–  –  –

government agency such as a national statistical office, central bank, or relevant ministry. Academic institutions, research organizations, and NGOs have done a large number of pilot studies on wealth and environmental accounting,1 but we consider such studies only when they have involved government agencies as well.

Second, countries are included only when they compile complete asset accounts in monetary units, that is, accounts that record opening and closing stocks and changes therein (such as depletion, discoveries, or growth) during the accounting period. This excludes countries that, for example, compile the value of extracted timber but do not estimate the total stock of timber.

The table was compiled in three stages. First, we reviewed existing surveys in different wealth accounting areas (subsoil, land, etc.) to draw up a first rough draft.

These included surveys by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD 2009) and Pasquier, Quirino, and Kesey (2007). Second, we consulted existing country publications as well as the OECD statistics database to get a more precise picture.

Third, we visited the websites of national statistical offices and conducted followup interviews with country experts and other environmental accounting experts.

As of 2010, more than 30 countries have compiled wealth estimates; 16 of them compile at least one type of natual capital stock regularly.2 The great


majority of countries use the SEEA as a reference. Country wealth accounting

practices are classified as follows:

Reg: accounts published on a regular basis (e.g., annually) I: accounts recently initiated but without results yet P: accounts compiled as a pilot project that has not yet been taken into regular production S: accounts compiled regularly in the past but currently suspended The table clearly demonstrates that wealth accounting is being practiced in both developed and developing countries. Several developing countries have strong environmental accounting programs, although some of these programs have been suspended due to lack of resources and/or capacity. Sweden and the United States have had strong wealth accounting programs in the past, but have now stopped. In Sweden, measurement issues and waning policy interest caused the focus of the environmental accounting program to shift from stock accounts to flow accounts (e.g., air emissions) and economic accounts (environmental taxes and subsidies, etc.). Recently, new initiatives by Brazil, China, and India have given impetus to environmental accounting.3 In terms of types of assets covered, timber and subsoil accounts have been tried most often, followed by land accounts. Produced assets are compiled most regularly by countries, followed by subsoil assets. We will now discuss compilation practices in more detail by type of resource.

Mineral and Energy Accounts Among the natural capital accounts, stock accounts for mineral and energy resources are compiled most regularly. Table 8.2 identifies some characteristics of mineral and energy asset accounts for those countries identified as regular compilers in table 8.1.

The net present value (NPV) method is the one used by the World Bank in its wealth accounts and recommended in the SEEA. It is the most widely used, although two developing countries, Mexico and Indonesia, use the net price method or the El-Serafy method, considered easier to implement. Japan uses the Hoskold or sinking-fund method, while the Czech Republic estimates stock values as the residual value of the stock of tangible, nonproduced assets minus the stock of land, both of which are available from statistical surveys (OECD 2008).

Country practices differ regarding the assumptions used in application of the NPV method: the chosen discount rates are often around 4 percent, but rates of return vary between 4 and 8 percent. Canada calculates several variants of the NPV method, resulting in upper and lower boundary values. The available time series vary across countries, and some countries do not compile physical


–  –  –

stock accounts (volume measures). Australia and Norway appear to be the only countries that also publish stock values in constant prices.

One of the main findings of the Global Assessment of Energy Accounts (UNSD 2009) was that in all responding countries, the total stock of reserves that is valued is broader than mere proven reserves, which are considered in the 2008 System of National Accounts (European Commission et al. 2009). Some part of probable and possible reserves may be included. Another finding was that the main difficulty in applying the NPV method is fluctuating resource rents.

Some countries therefore use a weighted moving average to smooth the effect of price changes, while others use specific price forecasts.

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