Not for your eyes only: Statistics Canada has natural capital data to share

Date: May 13, 2016

What might come as a surprise to some Canadian researchers is that Statistics Canada has some of the very best natural capital accounts and surveys in the world; not only do we have great economic data and social data, but we have great data on our environment and the impacts of human activity on our environment. Measuring natural capital is hard, and we haven’t done it all or figured it all out, but StatCan is an international leader in the field.

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Natural Capital Measurement at Statistics Canada: Current Status and Untapped Potential

Date: May 13, 2016

This report provides an overview of Statistics Canada’s efforts to measure the state of Canada’s natural capital (ecosystems, land and sub-soil resources), the demands placed upon it by human activities and the efforts undertaken to manage these demands. The goals of this paper are to promote awareness of the valuable natural capital data Statistics Canada produces and to identify areas where further data collection and analysis could usefully be carried out, both by Statistics Canada and by outside researchers.

Read the full research paper
View the Canadian Economics Association presentation on Natural Capital Measurement at Statistics Canada


Recapping the Natural Capital Symposium 2016

Date: May 11, 2016

The Natural Capital Symposium is an annual event hosted by the Natural Capital Project (NatCap) at Stanford University that brings together dynamic and inspiring scholars, professionals and experts on natural capital from all around the world. Many of those featured in the event are considered to be celebrities in this field—Hal Mooney (world renowned ecologist at Stanford), Stephen Polasky (from the University of Minnesota) and Mark Tercek (president of the Nature Conservancy), to name a few. And so naturally, it was an enormous privilege to have the opportunity to present my research work on pollution emissions in the Canadian pulp and paper sector at the event this year.

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Three Project Team Members to Present Papers at Upcoming Conferences

Date: May 6, 2016

Two Project team members will be presenting their work at upcoming conferences to be held in June 2016 – one in Canada, and two in Europe.

First, Robert Smith (Midsummer Analytics) will present the paper he prepared for this Project during the upcoming Canadian Economics Association annual conference to be held at the University of Ottawa. His paper, “Natural Capital Measurement at Statistics Canada: Current Status and Untapped Potential,” will be presented on June 3 during a session organized by the Canadian Resource and Environmental Economics Study Group. Stay tuned for the public release of his paper later this Spring.

Jean-Thomas Bernard (University of Ottawa, and Principal Investigator for this Project) will present his paper “Survival of the Cleanest? Evidence from a Plant Level Analysis of Pollutant emissions in Canadian Pulp and Paper Industry, 2005-2001” at the International Association for Energy Economists (IAEE) international conference in Bergen, Norway from June 19-22.

Finally, Geoff McCarney (University of Ottawa and Sustainable Prosperity) will be presenting his paper “Implications of a complete carbon life-cycle analysis for boreal forest management in Canada” during the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists’ annual conference being held in Zurich, Switzerland from June 22-25.

It’s great to see so many diverse papers coming out through this Project. Congratulations to Rob, Jean-Thomas and Geoff!


Linking natural capital and productivity: A roundup of two recent studies

Date: May 2, 2016

For many of those who have been following Sustainable Prosperity’s work, you’ve likely heard about our “Linking Natural Capital & Productivity” project. This project, made possible by contributions from many partners, aims to shed light on the relationship between economic activity and the environment. Specifically, we’re looking at how the ways we use and impact natural capital are (or aren’t) captured in our measures of productivity. (Our website has a nifty glossary if you’d like more background on terms like natural capital and productivity).

This research is highly policy-relevant. If we can better understand the linkages between our economic activity and our environment, then we will have a better shot at decoupling economic activity from its adverse environmental impacts. “Decoupling” (think trains decoupling rather than celebrities) means finding ways to continue to prosper while having a smaller environmental footprint.

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Student Mishaal Sinha to Share Project Findings at Natural Capital Symposium

Date: January 3, 2016

The 2016 Natural Capital Symposium is being hosted by the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University, from the 21st to the 24th of March. The event will be a major convening of international groups and leaders in natural capital approaches around the world, focusing on natural capital approaches that aim to foster and support bringing ecosystem services into policy and decision making by building capacity; sharing success stores and lessons learned, and advancing work in use cases around the world.

The research done by Mishaal Sinha on the evolution of pollution emissions in the pulp and paper sector has been accepted as a poster submission, to be presented at the event. The paper looks into plant-level data pertaining to specific air and water pollutants relevant to the sector. The event will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase Mishaal's research.


Americans ask themselves: “What’s nature got to do with it?”

Date: October 14, 2015

Some potentially big news came out of the US White House last week, without making much of a splash. So on this #CleanWaterWednesday, we look at a new US federal directive on natural capital and ecosystem services and we ask ourselves, why are Americans asking themselves “what’s nature got to do with it?”

On October 7th (coincidentally, another #CleanWaterWednesday), the Obama administration released a Directive instructing federal departments and agencies to factor the value of ecosystem services in their decision-making. Let’s unpack this in a few steps.

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If you teach a policy maker to (account for) fish: Looking at natural capital issues and management in Thailand’s fishing sector

Date: October 7, 2015

One of the main questions the Natural Capital and Productivity project seeks to answer is ‘what might Canada do better, in order to improve its economic and environmental performance’? (Learn more about the rationale for the project here) While that project looks specifically at the question through the lens of the forest products sector in Canada, this is a question relevant to all forms of natural capital and all countries, particularly those countries dependent on renewable and/or non-renewable resources.

To take a case in point, Thailand – much like Canada – depends on natural capital for economic survival and growth; over the 2010-2014 period the agricultural sector alone comprised 11.6% of the country’s GDP.1 Yet – again, similar to Canada – Thailand has failed to fully capture the value of its natural capital, including both natural resources and ecosystem services.

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Project Rationale Presented at CANSEE Conference

Date: October 2, 2015

Project Coordinator Michelle Brownlee presented the rationale for the project at the biennial meetings of the Canadian Association for Ecological Economics today.

View her presentation


Update on Jakir Talukder's Doctoral Work

Date: October 6, 2015

The Linking Natural Capital & Productivity's PhD student Jakir Talukder has successfully presented his second doctoral paper to his doctoral committee through a workshop. His doctoral committee determined that his third Phd paper, the one in which he will present the environmentally-adjusted measure of MFP for pulp and paper sector, will be his job market paper. Congratulations, Jakir.

Linking Natural Capital and Productivity – Why the Forest Products Sector is such an interesting case study

Date: September 28, 2015

Recently, Sustainable Prosperity, in partnership with the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and others, launched a research project to explore the links between productivity and natural capital. You can learn more about the project here.

This 2-year research project looks at how our environmental and economic successes are linked – and aims to ultimately shed light on how we can optimize our practices and develop good policies. The project’s rationale goes something like this – we care about the environment, we care about our economic prosperity, and the two are highly linked, as the graphic below shows.

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Centre for the Study of Living Standards Releases Reports on Productivity in the Forest Products Sector

Date: July 27, 2015

On July 20, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released two reports on productivity in the forest products sector in Quebec and Ontario over the 2000-2013 period. The report was commissioned by the Forest Products Association of Canada. The reports find that the forest product sector in both provinces was hit by a perfect storm in the 2000s. The demand for the forest products was devastated by structural factors such as the decline in demand for paper caused by the shift to electronic media and the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar and, after 2007, cyclical factors arising from the financial crisis and the collapse in U.S. housing construction. When demand is weak, productivity growth is also generally weak. But this was not the case in the forest products sector. For details on how and why this occurred, see the Quebec study and the Ontario study.

Project Findings Accepted for Presentation at CANUSSEE Conference

Date: October 1-4, 2015

The rationale for the “Linking Natural Capital and Productivity” project and the project’s early findings have been accepted for presentation at the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE) & United States Society for Ecological Economics (USSEE) joint biennial conference. The conference, titled “Pathways for Change” will take place in Vancouver from October 1-4, 2015.


Team Members’ Paper Accepted for Conference Presentations

Date: May 30, 2015

The Natural Capital & Productivity project team is pleased to announce that a paper written by two of the project’s scholars has been accepted for the presentation at two upcoming conferences – the Canadian Economics Association’s 2015 annual conference and the European Workshop on Productivity Analysis.

The unpublished work of Jakir Hussain and Dr. Jean Thomas Bernard titled Flexible Functional Forms and Curvature Conditions: Evidence from Parametric Productivity Measurement in Canadian Manufacturing, will be discussed at the Canadian Economics Association’s annual meetings during the session “Why Do Policies Matter? Empirical Evidence Across Countries” on May 30, 2015. It has also been accepted for presentation at the 14th European Workshop on Productivity Analysis in Finland in June 2015. The paper presents an econometric approach to exploring the effects of technological change on productivity in three of Canada’s manufacturing sectors – specifically, the primary metal, cement and paper industries.