World Bank President Robert Zoellick spoke before a biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan, on how his group would increase its financial support for conservation, noting preservation and economic development were crucially linked.
Zoellick said the bank would look at natural resources as something greater than a capital tool for exploitation.
"The natural wealth of nations should be a capital asset valued in combination with its financial capital, manufactured capital, and human capital," he said in his statement Thursday.
The bank said it was developing a way to give developing countries the tools to integrate the value of their resources into their national accounting systems.
Zoellick said calculating value wouldn't be a measure of profits from sales minus cost of development but a broader measurement that includes losses incurred from cyclones, declining fish stock and other calamities.
"The goal is to introduce the practice of ecosystem valuation into national accounts at scale so that better management of natural environments becomes business as usual," the bank said.