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After a three year United Nations process, and a longer 10 year journey, the United Nations Statistical Commission has adopted the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) Ecosystem Accounting as the international standard for natural capital accounting.

UN Chief Economist, Elliot Harris, highlighted the relevance and need for ecosystem accounting and the significance of having a statistical standard in these recent releases. Going beyond GDP and recognising the importance of nature to people and society will be fundamental in the years ahead.

The SEEA EA contains standard concepts and definitions for measuring ecosystem extent, ecosystem condition and flows of ecosystem services and describes internationally recognised principles and recommendations for the valuation of ecosystem services and ecosystem assets. The technical draft adopted by the Statistical Commission will be finalised and published later this year as a joint release by the UN and other international agencies including World Bank, IMF, OECD, FAO and the European Commission.

Since the first experimental draft was released in 2013, more than 30 countries have undertaken work on ecosystem accounting to advance the concepts, methods and application. Leading countries include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, United Kingdom and United States.

IDEEA Group Director, Carl Obst, has been a leading player in the development of the standard, as the lead author and editor of the SEEA EA and as a key co-ordinator of the technical inputs from over 600 experts from around the world and across many disciplines. IDEEA Group has developed processes and tools to drive the implementation of the concepts and principles of the SEEA and advance natural capital accounting at national, catchment and business scales.

Contact the IDEEA Group to start your natural capital journey.