Natural Capital: Ireland's Hidden Wealth

April 28-29, 2014

National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

"Member States…will… assess the economic value of such [ecosystem] services, and promote the integration of these values into accounting and reporting systems at EU and national level by 2020." - Action 5, EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

We often say that nature is priceless, but we treat it as though it were economically worthless: we fail to include the value of natural capital resources, and the ecosystem goods and services that flow from them, in our national accounting systems like GDP. However, that is changing very rapidly:  governments and business leaders alike now recognise that there is an urgent need to accurately evaluate the benefits and costs of our relationship with the environment in economic terms, as the impacts of diminishing resources, increasing environmental degradation, and climate change, become more and more apparent. 

Ireland is already committed, under EU and national legislation, “to assess the economic value of such services, and promote the integration of these values into accounting and reporting systems at EU and national level by 2020.” But there has been very little general awareness of this commitment to date. Work on this exciting – and challenging – endeavour is only beginning in Ireland, but some very promising studies have already been done, here and internationally, which unlock hidden wealth in our landscapes. The Natural Capital conference will highlight and advance this important task with government, private and semi-state corporations, national institutions and the general public.

Natural Capital: Ireland’s Hidden Wealth, will host leading international and national figures in this field, including: ​

  • James Aronson, Centre D’Ecologie Fonctionnelle & Evolutive (CNRS) 
  • Dan O'Brien, Chief Economist at the Institute for International and European Affairs
  • Micheal O'Briain, Natural Capital Directorate at Environment DG Brussels
  • Feargal O Coigligh, Assistant Secretary of the Irish Dept. of Arts, Heritage, and Gaeltacht

The aim of the conference is to provide a clearer and more positive understanding of natural capital values, using international and national case studies and to encourage and facilitate public and private sectors to initiate the development of accounting systems that value natural capital.