Establishing the SEEA Ecosystem Accounting as a global standard

Bram Edens*, Joachim Maes, Lars Hein, Carl Obst, Juha Siikamaki, Sjoerd Schenau, Marko Javorsek, Julian Chow, Jessica Ying Chan, Anton Steurer, Alessandra Alfieri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In March 2021, the UN Statistical Commission adopted the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Ecosystem Accounting. The SEEA EA provides detailed guidance measuring the extent and condition of ecosystems, and how to quantify ecosystem services. This paper presents the SEEA EA in terms of the various types of ecosystem accounts, its origins, purposes and applications. A first handbook was published in 2013 followed by a period of testing. A revision process was launched in 2018 involving a wide range of experts in ecology, environmental economics and statistics. They proposed new or updated classifications for ecosystems and ecosystem condition, a reference list of ecosystem services and improved the internal consistency of the different ecosystem accounts. These proposals were reviewed in two global consultation rounds yielding strong support for a standard approach to ecosystem accounting. Finally, the conceptual framework and the physical accounts (extent, condition and services) are adopted as an international statistical standard. The guidance on monetary accounts (ecosystem services, ecosystem assets, sequence of accounts) is considered as internationally recognised principles and recommendations. Countries are encouraged to develop ecosystem accounts for use in policy and decision-making processes in both public and private sector and contribute to its further methodological development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101413
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Ecosystem accounting
  • Revision process
  • System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA)


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