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SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting

  Advancing the SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting

The United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) TEEB Office, and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, supported by the Government of Norway, have embarked on a project to advancing the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (EEA).

The project will review data availability and measurement practices and develop plans for advancing Ecosystem Accounting in pilot countries. The initial phase of the project runs until 31 December 2014 and will deliver the following:

  • A 5 year Global Strategy for advancing the testing and research agenda of the SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting;
  • Guidelines on testing;
  • Training material;
  • Communication and outreach material for SEEA; and
  • Country plans for Bhutan, Chile, Indonesia, Mauritius, Mexico, South Africa, and Vietnam.


The System of Environmental-Economic accounting (SEEA) has emerged as a leading tool in the support of policy and analysis of the environment and its relation with economic and human activities. Its particular strength is its capacity to integrate environmental information into standard measures of economic activity. It can therefore facilitate the mainstreaming of environmental information in economic development and planning discussions and serve to recognise the connections between environmental policy objectives and broader societal outcomes.

Critical global policy demand to advance environmental-economic accounting is expressed in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Aichi target 2 under this strategic goal commits government to integrate, by 2020, biodiversity values into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes, and to incorporate them into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems. This objective is repeated in Target 15.9 of the Outcome Document - Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012 Central Framework (SEEA Central Framework) was adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) at its 43rd session in 2012 as the international statistical standard for environmental-economic accounting. Further, at its 44th session in 2013, the UNSC endorsed SEEA 2012 Experimental Ecosystem Accounting. The Commission encouraged its use by international, regional agencies and countries wishing to test and experiment in this new area of statistics. Together these technical documents provide a comprehensive platform for the development of comparable measures of the relationship between the environment and the economy across the world and support mainstreaming of the full range of ecosystem services and benefits in standard macro-economic accounts and indicators.

The focus of this project on advancing and testing SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting sits at the leading edge of accounting practice. The modelling and scaling of information on ecosystem services, ecosystem condition, and ecosystem capacity across all types of ecosystems represents a significant challenge. However, understanding and knowledge in this area is advancing at a rapid pace involving people from many disciplines including ecology, economics, statistics and geography. Data sources range from specific local data to global satellite imagery. While complex, there is undoubtedly a way forward and this project seeks to consolidate the gains that have been made and support the advancement of the work. The needs have never been greater.

Relevant documentation

  • System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012: Experimental Ecosystem Accounting
  • System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012: Central Framework
  • Briefing Note, SEEA-Experimental Ecosystem Accounting
  • Briefing Note, SEEA-Central Framework

    Relevant documentation

  • CBD COP-12 (6-17 October 2014)
  • Regional workshop, Latin America (to be announced)
  • Regional workshop, Asia (to be announced)
  • Forum of experts in ecosystem accounting (to be announced)
  • Meeting on linking the SEEA with business accounting (to be announced)

    Related projects, initiatives and websites

  • London Group on Environmental Accounting
  • Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)
  • Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Partnership
  • The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (UNDP)
  • Project for Ecosystem Services (ProEcoServ)



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