Prof. Sir Partha Dasgupta
Dr. Leonie Pearson
Dr. Pablo Muñoz
Elorm Darkey


Pearson, L., Munoz, P. and Darkey, E.(2012). The significance of the natural wealth of nations. In UNU-IHDP and UNEP. Inclusive Wealth Report 2012. Measuring progress toward sustainability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Key Messages from Chapter

This first IWR focuses on quantifying components of natural capital that are largely driven by those resources for which markets exist. It is easier to obtain physical inventories and data on these stocks.

Shadow prices would be an effective tool for measuring an asset’s contribution to well-being because they also reflect the relative importance of the different capital forms within the wealth accounting framework. The lack of such shadow prices presents a significant shortcoming. So instead, this analysis relies on rental prices, meaning market prices minus production costs of the resources.

We see that in almost all countries, potential gains in renewable resources were not enough to compensate for the depletion of exhaustible stocks, like fossil fuels. The fishery is a specific illustration where, although a renewable resource, fish are being “mined” at a rate that challenges renewal of the stock.

The general trend is that population has been growing in most of the countries, exacerbating thereby the decline in natural capital growth rates, as resources are accounted for among a larger number of people.