Ecological Accounting: “The emphasis is on ‘civil services’ that provide a municipal function,” says Tim Pringle
Note to Reader:
Released in December 2014, Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework is a game-changer. It makes the link between local government services, the infrastructure that supports the delivery of those services, and the health of watershed systems. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is collaborating with Asset Management BC to integrate “watershed systems thinking” into the Asset Management Continuum. The Partnership is the lead for development of an Ecological Accounting Protocol.
Ecological Accounting – An Idea Whose Time Has Come
The Winter 2016 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article by Tim Pringle.
Tim Pringle is Chair, Ecological Accounting Protocol (EAP) Project. He is also Partnership Past-President. Tim Pringle coined the phrase ecological accounting protocol to make clear the distinction vis-à-vis ecological economics. “The purpose of the proposed accounting protocol is to enable comparison of engineered infrastructure to natural systems by means of common units of measurement and value,” states Tim Pringle.
His article (the first in a two-part series for the AMBC Newsletter) discusses the importance of devising an ecological accounting protocol and the valuation issues that arise. Part two will focus on how the protocol would enable full risk and opportunity assessment of all assets owned by and available to local government.
To Learn More:
To download a copy of the article, click on Getting the Most from Infrastructure Assets: The Idea of Ecological Accounting.
Also, click on Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework (short version) to download a copy of the guidance document.
Ecological Accounting Protocol Project
“The challenge is in HOW to calculate the most effective blend of services from nature and engineered infrastructure. The need for measurement and valuation is paramount. While engineered services involve expenditures that are readily accounted, those drawn from nature do not have commonly accepted measures and values. Thus, opportunities to benefit from understanding, protecting and using services from natural assets may be ignored.”
The project will be undertaken by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in 2016-2017 as a deliverable for the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI). Going forward, the twin technical pillars of the IREI program will be the Ecological Accounting Protocol (to be developed) and Water Balance Methodology(existing) which was adopted by the Province in 2002.
Ecological Accounting versus Ecological Economics
“Ecological accounting differs from ecological economics,” emphasizes Tim Pringle. “The latter approach determines general values for natural systems with emphasis on influencing policy and statistical measures. The former process determines which infrastructure services may be drawn from natural assets and the cost of using those services at specific sites and throughout a watershed.”
“There appears to be little existing research to describe the cost of managing natural assets compared to engineered assets. Ecological accounting faces the challenge of monetizing natural assets and services in a way that can be compared to engineered assets and services.”
Integration with Regional Water Sustainability Plans
“An Ecological Accounting Protocol will be a tool to support the full risk and opportunity assessment of all assets owned by and available to local governments. Looking ahead, it is envisioned that use of the Ecological Accounting Protocol would help support regional water sustainability planning processes in British Columbia. This outcome would be consistent with the policy objectives of the Water Sustainability Act, passed in 2014,” concludes Tim Pringle.