Ecosystem accounting in support of the transition to sustainable societies – the case for a parsimonious and inclusive measurement of ecosystem condition

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Figure 5, from the publication - Structure of ecosystem accounts discussed in this paper. White boxes represent accounts, distinguishing between physical accounts on the top and monetary accounts below. Within the ecosystem accounts, the standard components of the SEEA-EEA are presented on the green area. Some potentially useful side accounts are represented outside the boundary: ecosystem use accounts may include land use accounts; observed costs accounts may include environmental expenditures accounts as prescribed by the SEEA-CF. The comparison of functionality and conservation indicators with reference levels allows to derive a meaningful measure of the costs required for the maintenance and restoration of natural capital. Net of incurred cost they allow to derive a measure of unpaid ecological costs (Vanoli, 1995, 2015), which may be structured in dedicated accounts.

Authors: A.Comte (1),(2), Y. Kervinio (1), H. Levrel (1),(2)

(1) CIRED, AgroParisTech, CIRAD, CNRS, EHESS, Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, Université de Paris-Saclay, Campus du Jardin Tropical, 45 bis, avenue de la Belle Gabrielle, 94736 Nogent-sur-Marne, France
(2) Université de Brest, Ifremer, CNRS, UMR6308 AMURE, IUEM, Plouzané, France

Abstract: The development of ecosystem accounting systems at national levels to complete current wealth indicators with robust information on ecosystem degradation or enhancement is a crucial challenge, recognized in international strategies. However, the methodologies remain under development building, at the global level, on an experimental ecosystem accounting framework (the SEEA-EEA).Building on this framework and current academic discussions, this article aims at proposing a methodological advance for aligning the SEEA-EEA with the needs of ecosystem management and the principles of strong sustainability. It consists in structuring ecosystem condition measurement into a parsimonious and inclusive set of characteristics, indicators and reference levels with an explicit and inclusive value basis. This sets the grounds for the development of sound and policy-relevant ecosystem monitoring systems and the production of meaningful macro-aggregate indicators of ecosystem degradation at national levels.

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