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Advancing the Global Statistical System- Major work areas and accomplishments
1 March 2010


Learning Center on
Environment Statistics and Environmental Accounting

The System Approach to Environmental Information
Challenges and the Way Forward

22 February 2010, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Conference Room C (TNLB)
United Nations, New York

The Learning Center on Environment Statistics and Environmental Accounting offers an opportunity for Chief Statisticians and statistical managers to obtain a more in depth understanding of the multi-purpose systems’ approach to environmental accounting and statistics. It will address both the user needs and the institutional arrangements to advance a systems approach for the environmental information system.

The Learning Center is a forum for discussion on specific topics related to environmental-economic accounting and supporting statistics.  While the session last year focused on describing the main features and applications of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), this year session will cover presentations on the current discussions on environment statistics in particular with regard to the ecosystem approach to environment statistics and its relationship with the SEEA.

Chaiperson: Peter Harper, Chair, United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting and Deputy Statistician, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Seminar Programme/Agenda

Canadian Framework for Developing Environment Statistics – Munir Sheikh, Chief Statistician and Michael Bordt, Acting Director Environment Accounts and Statistics, Statistics Canada

The framework represents the basic organizing structure to guide environment statistics and in particular ensure the quality of the data collected.  The approach proposed is founded on the rational that the ecosystems approach is multi-dimensional and recognizes complex relationships and linkages among various parts of the structure as information needs are systematically analyzed.  Moreover, the ecosystem approach is founded on scientific information and provides a way to transform scientific data into the realm of official statistics through ensuring that basic principles of statistical quality are met.


Revision of the UN FDES – Conclusions of an expert group meeting and the way forward Eszter Horvath, Chief, Environment and Energy Statistics Branch, UNSD

Recent decades have led to dramatic changes in knowledge regarding the environment and the role it plays in supporting life on earth and all human activities. Better understanding of the environment has to be reflected in the conceptual basis of the framework for environment statistics. The presentation will summarize the main conclusions and recommendations of an expert group meeting that revisited the UN Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES) that was published 25 years ago. The EGM discussed how the concepts and methods that build up the framework have stood the test of time. It also discussed what direction the revision process should take to develop the FDES as an overarching framework to establish a coherent, effective national environment statistics system that integrates environment statistics, indicators and accounts.


China Environmental-Economic Accounting programme –Yixuan Wang, Division Director Department of National Accounts, National Bureau of Statistics China

China has invested in developing a systems approach to the environmental information system by formulating an environmental-economic accounting program covering water, mineral and energy and forest accounts and statistics. 
The presentation will offer insights of the challenges faced in creating new collaboration arrangements among the various ministries and agencies in the national statistical system, the mutual benefits of the partnerships in adopting a systems approach to environmental statistics and how coherent sets of indicators and environment statistics for the different environmental themes derived through systems approach have met the users needs in China.


SEEA as the system approach to environmental information– Ivo Havinga Chief, Economic Statistics Branch and Alessandra Alfieri, Chief Environmental-Economic Accounts Section, UNSD

The presentation will elaborate on how the SEEA, a multi-purpose approach to environmental information, can be used to meet the needs for economic-environmental information as well as the ecosystem approach.  Until present the SEEA has been perceived by many as a mere satellite of the SNA by separately identifying information already in the conventional accounts related to the environment (e.g. environment-related taxes and subsidies and environmental protection expenditures) and presenting physical information side-by side with monetary information.  However, the SEEA already includes in its modules and in particular the module on the asset accounts, the link with the ecosystem approach.  The SEEA needs a framework to better articulate a communication strategy of the accounts in particular concerning the ecosystem approach vis-à-vis the scientific community.  To this end, the Canadian initiative and more in general the international initiative to update the Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics provide an important input.


Questions and general discussion