Projects carried by the Chair

The projects carried out by the Chair are financed by the Chair and aligned with the objectives set out in the project framework note. A first objective is to participate in the transformation of accounting systems, in their aims and structure, so that they become decision-making tools for the benefit of living beings (human and non-human), in a demanding and fundamental logic of strong sustainability. A second objective, inseparable and complementary, is to ensure the articulation of these accounts from the organisational to the national level. Ecosystem accounts or " ecosystems management centered” scale will make it possible to ensure this connection, by organising the individual and collective responsibilities of actors in the same territory, for the purposes of collective ecosystem management.

Thesis 1: Study and articulation of ecological debts and claims from the organization to the national scale

PhD student: Clément Surun
Graduate school: ABIES-AgroParisTech
Directors: Harold Levrel (thesis Director), Clément Feger (co-director)
Start date: April 2019


Research and development of a coherent articulation between the micro (organisations) and macro (national) levels of ecological accounting under the prism of ecological debts and claims.

Summary of the thesis project

The purpose of this thesis is to work on the articulation between the great diversity of forms taken by external reporting of companies and the definition of conventions and nomenclatures structuring the central and satellite accounts of national accounting, but also to test the information of ecological accounts at these two scales. Indeed, how can the impacts measured and reported by each organisation or sector of activity at an individual level be assessed at an aggregate level? In relation to what limits and standards are set or negotiated at the national level? In order to carry out this work, one or more case studies will be mobilised, the objective of which will be to test the feasibility of this articulation and the necessary adaptations.

Thesis 2: Study and experimentation of the CARE model at a winery case study

PhD student: Valentine Prévot
Graduate school: SHS-University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne
Directors: Franck-Dominique Vivien (thesis Director), Alexandre Rambaud (co-director)
Start date: October 2019

Study the application of the CARE (Comprehensive Accounting in Respect of Ecology) accounting model (Rambaud & Richard, 2015; Richard, 2012; Richard, Bensadon, & Rambaud, 2018) in the case of wine farms in Remy. The land is provided by LVMH, a partner of the "Ecological Accounting" chair.

Summary of the thesis project
The thesis studies the implementation of the CARE accounting model in the context of wine farms in the Rémi region. To do so, it aims at:

  • Provide a study of soil capital and related maintenance costs;
  • Conduct an economic, accounting and ecological analysis of the relationship between soil maintenance and land use on wineries, based on CARE’s conceptual framework;
  • Cross-reference financial and extra-financial data (within CARE’s conceptual framework);
  • Theoretically and methodologically deepen the CARE model.

Research paper 1 (Master 2): COP 15 for biodiversity and ecological accounting: what synergies?

Student: Clément Boyer
Academic institution: Paris-Dauphine University
Direction: Alexandre Rambaud (dissertation Director), Clément Feger & Harold Levrel (co-directors)
Period : April-September 2020


Assess how, in the decision-making context of COP15, it is possible to make proposals on ecological accounting that can represent a real lever for change at different levels of governance. This will result in the construction of a strong mapping of institutional initiatives on ecological accounting for sustainability. A significant amount of time will be devoted to interactions with the academic bearers of the Chair and with other actors working on these subjects. Links will be made between the Chair’s scientific projects/resources and those associated with the Chair, and the political stakes in terms of biodiversity, as brought forward in the framework of the CBD COP.
The aim is to produce a document that highlights:
- The innovations/proposals that can be identified in 2020 in terms of ecological accounting, at the three scales (organization, ecosystem, State) ;
- To discuss these proposals in the light of the objectives set by COP15;
- To highlight the adequacy or inadequacy between the COP15 targets for biodiversity and proposals for ecological accounting;
- To make proposals emanating from the Chair’s scientific project.

Development and experimentation of the ESGAP tool in New Caledonia

Development and experimentation of the ESGAP tool in New Caledonia, in collaboration with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), WWF France, University College of London (UCL).

Ecological Accounting Chair:
Harold Levrel > Project leader
Adrien Comte > Main researcher
Clément Surun > Technical Support

Period : 2020-2021

Project summary

Adrien Comte and Clément Surun are carrying out a study whose objective is to build a dashboard of sustainability indicators for New Caledonia, the ESGAP (Environmental Sustainability Gap). This study is carried out in the framework of a research partnership with AFD and WWF, for a period of 6 months. ESGAP, initially developed by Paul Ekins’ team (UCL), is similar to a simplified system of national accounts because it aims at a certain exhaustiveness and there is coherence between the environmental indicators chosen: sustainability of resource use, level of pollution that the environment can eliminate without damage, state of biodiversity, impacts on human health. Moreover, the explicit reference to scientific objectives (global limits, critical natural capital thresholds) and the way in which the final indicator is aggregated classify the GPAHS as highly sustainable. Fieldwork consists of collecting the necessary data, adapting the tool to local needs and discussing its sustainability over time. Thus, several core indicators will be created. The method and the pilot built will be transmitted to local actors for sustainability.

Thesis 3: Development of the CARE accounting model and ecosystem-centric accounting: the case of agricultural farms

Phd student: Clément Boyer
Graduate school: DRM-Paris Dauphine University
Directors: Frédérique Déjean (Thesis Director), Alexandre Rambaud (co-director)
Start date: November 2020

Development of CARE multi-capital accounting, in connection with ecosystem accounting centred on the Envol farm - and other farms in the SESAME perimeter - on the territory of the Cœur d’Essonne conurbation community and its partners.

Summary of the thesis project
The thesis is part of a research project entitled "Compter autrement, compter ce qui compte vraiment", carried out by the Ecological Accounting Chair (AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Dauphine and Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne) and whose scientific director is Alexandre Rambaud.

The doctoral student’s objective over 3 years is to :
- Deepen the question of natural capital, in the case of the Sesame project and thus
to develop the "natural capital" component of CARE’s experimentation;
- To identify the natural capitals at stake in the enterprises concerned, to define them
methodically, assess their maintenance costs and the types of uses of this capital;
- To analyse the obstacles of this model on the question of "natural capital" when it is put into practice and to deduce methodological recommendations. Participate in the theoretical and practical development of the CARE model on the issue of "capital".
natural" ;
- For this reason:
o Develop the basis for an analytical accounting system linked to CARE, capable of
monitor the evolution of business models (to do so, it will be possible to
study and deepen the links between CARE and IDEA) ;
o Include the study of natural capitals in the development of an
ecosystem-centric management accounting

Projects associated with the Chair

Projects associated with the Chair represent all projects involving one or more members of the Chair, in collaboration with one or more partner or non-partner structures of the Chair. These projects are financed partially or entirely through external funding, and deal with themes of interest to the Chair, according to a strong sustainability principle. These projects may take the form of working groups, research projects (through theses, post-doctorates) or the organization and running of scientific seminars and colloquia.

“Economy and Biodiversity” working group

Steering of the "Economy and Biodiversity" working group (WG) in association with the National Biodiversity Observatory (NBO) of the French Office for Biodiversity (FOB)

Chair in Ecological Accounting:
Harold Levrel > Co-Facilitator of the WG, expert in the economics of biodiversity
Aurélien Oosterlinck > Co-Facilitator and coordinator of the WG, member of the NBO editorial committee

Julien Massetti > NBO strategy project manager
Stanislas Wroza > NBO Operational Coordination Project Manager

Period: 2020-2022

Project Summary

The "Economy and Biodiversity" working group, launched in October 2019 for an initial period of 3 years, has set itself the task of developing economic and operational indicators of biodiversity, capable of:
- Take account of the economy’s dependence on biodiversity
- Monitoring economic pressures on biodiversity
- Ensuring the monitoring of public policy objectives in terms of biodiversity
Communicating on issues deemed central and priority to the general public and decision-makers
- Serve as decision support tools

The group brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including: researchers, economists, ecologists, SD / CSR officers, members of the statistical service of the Ministry in charge of the environment, the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB), consulting firms.

It meets 3 times a year. The indicators are developed or updated in the framework of the WG meetings and then submitted for evaluation and validation to the ONB’s editorial committee, before being published. The set of indicators is then screened and ranked according to various criteria (relevance, robustness, objectivity) by the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) within the framework of the Technical and Scientific Council (CRT). The indicator sheets, as well as other WG products, are posted on the ONB website. > ONB Indicators

End of studies report: "Theoretical reflections on the articulation of the ecosystem-centric management accounting model with the CARE model"

Student: Maria Vio Bianca Coronel Fernandez
Etablishment: AgroParisTech
Director: Clément Feger (thesis director), Alexandre Rambaud (co-director)
Period: May-September 2020


The aim is to continue the work already begun to link the ecosystem-centred management accounting approach and the CARE approach. The challenge is to move towards a hybrid accounting system in order to organize the consideration and conservation of natural entities from the corporate level to the collective management of ecosystems. The work will contribute to discuss the theoretical bases of such a reconciliation and to establish a first conceptual scheme articulating the two proposed accounting models. This theoretical work will be illustrated on the basis of simplified cases.

> Read the publication

Post-doctoral - MAIA Project

Chercheur de la Chaire: Harold Levrel (AgroParisTech, CIRED)
Chercheur associé : Adrien Comte, post-doctoral fellow (CIRED)
Period: 2019-2021

Project Summary

The MAIA project (Mapping and Assessment for Integrated ecosystem Accounting) is a European research project that aims to test ecosystem and natural capital accounts and to make them sustainable in the national accounting systems of the member countries of the European Union.

MAIA is a European research project H2020, which starts in 2019 for a duration of 4 years. Coordinated by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, it brings together partners from 10 European countries, including research organisations, but also statistical institutes and European organisations (e.g. Eurostat). The aim of the project is to carry out experiments with the methodology developed by the United Nations, the SEEA-EEA (System for Environment-Economic Accounting - Experimental Ecosystem Accounts) in order to refine this methodology to better connect ecosystem assessments to traditional economic accounting. This goal has four objectives:

1) To establish national and international networks between statistical institutes, other branches of government, and experts working on ecological economics and ecosystems.
2) To test and evaluate the approaches being developed to compile accounts under the UN SEEA-EEA.
3) To produce technical documents and share experiences to improve the development of ecosystem accounts.
4) To improve access to databases necessary for the development of ecosystem accounting.

Case studies in partner countries will be carried out to achieve these four objectives. In France, AgroParisTech, as part of a collaboration between the CIRED laboratory, the Ministry for Ecological and Solidarity Transition, as well as other academic and public partners, will carry out a study on the accounting of marine ecosystems. This will involve developing accounts of the extent of marine ecosystems, their condition, and the economic cost of degrading these ecosystems.

The kick-off meeting of the project took place at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands, from January 30 to 31, 2019. This meeting allowed all the European partners to meet, to plan the project activities, to coordinate between the teams to collaborate effectively, and to exchange on the experiments in progress in the various member countries of the European Union.