The Politics and Policy of Green GDP: A Focus on The Implementation of Natural Capital Accounting in Costa Rica and China




Baxter, Victoria Elise

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The gross domestic product (GDP) is the traditional method of calculating the economic worth of a country. Despite its common usage, it is not a reliable way to evaluate the long-term economic standing of a state. GDP only measures the income portion of a nation's performance and fails to take into account relevant externalities, such as the environmental costs of production. A way to resolve this issue is by using natural capital accounting to acquire green GDP (GGDP). The United Nations System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) has already developed guidelines for the implementation of GGDP. They have partnered with The Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) to create sustainable development through widespread natural capital counting. Using information from both SEAA and WAVES, this thesis analyzes the past and current implementation of GGDP in Costa Rica and China. Findings suggest that implementation has been incredibly successful in Costa Rica, which focused primarily on building forest and water accounts. Through these accounts, the economic value of standing forests and clean water has been realized, which has led to the reversal of deforestation, and an increase in carbon sequestration. In China, the GGDP initiative initially failed after overseers realized how degrading the program would be to the nation's GDP and how complicated implementation would be. Fortunately, this realization has led to a new sweep of environmental initiatives that have been successful in reversing environmental v damage throughout the country. In recent years, the Chinese government has attempted to reimplement the program more successfully.



economics, Costa Rica, China, environment, GDP, green GDP, natural capital accounting, WAVES, SEEA, Honors College


Baxter, V. E. (2017). The politics and policy of green GDP: A focus on the implementation of natural capital accounting in Costa Rica and China (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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