The Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime and Gaming’s Department for Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), supported by the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), have produced the first national Natural Capital Account (NCA) for Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) measuring the benefit that the environment provides to TCI. The recently completed NCA for 2017 found that the environment supports over $100 million annually to TCI through tourism, fishing, agriculture and recreational benefits to residents. The initial account presents preliminary results and lays the foundation for improved management of TCI’s environment. A workshop is being conducted on February 20th and 21st to build capacity for government practitioners to further develop and use NCA to inform policy and planning.
NCA is a way of managing the environment, by combining ecological and economic data to better understand the value that the environment provides. This is done through the production of structured accounts which can be used to inform policy and planning decisions. By using the principles of environmental economics to understand the value of the environment, NCA is a leading-edge approach to monitoring the benefits of a nation’s environmental assets, in parallel to other national accounts, such as GDP (which measure the value of a nation’s economy). Better environmental management, informed by these accounts, can create benefits such as improved coastal protection, greater tourism potential, plentiful fish populations, a reduction in erosion, sustainable material production, and better air and water quality. This will improve both the sustainability of a nations’ environment, and the prosperity of its people.
Director of Strategic Policy and Planning, Mrs. Kathleen Forbes stated, "The environment is pivotal in providing TCI with much of its national wealth and well-being. It is therefore fundamental that it is considered equally with the nation's other assets in policy and planning. NCA provides a useful and practical holistic tool we can use to help bring environmental data into national accounts to better invest for the future."
The objective of the workshop is to provide knowledge and skills to facilitate the introduction and utilisation of NCA in TCI and how it may be applied to create meaningful impact in policy and planning. As such, practitioners will gain experience in collecting, processing and linking data collection activities to the decision-making processes. The workshop is designed for cross-department technical experts from within TCI Government to build capacity so that practitioners will be equipped with the ability to take the NCA process forward in TCI. This will begin with the development of the updated NCA for 2018, and a strategy to further improve and embed NCA to help support effective decision making from 2019 and beyond.
Minister with responsibility for Tourism and the Environment Hon. Ralph Higgs commented; “We are pleased to receive the support and assistance of the JNCC for the development of the country’s first National Capital Account. Natural Capital underpins the socioeconomic development of countries and is critical in maintaining resilience to natural and human elements. This document will aid and provide insight to ensure strategic decisions are made in the best interest of our people and country towards the protection and sustainability of our environment.
 For further details on the Natural Capital Accounting process, see the report “Natural Capital Accounting in the UK Overseas Territories: A Guide”, available from TCIG Department for Environment and Coastal Resources.
 For further details on TCI’s 2017 NCA, see the report “Turks and Caicos Islands Natural Capital Accounting – Initial Review”, available from TCIG Department for Environment and Coastal Resources.