The Quest for Green GDP

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most commonly used measure of a nation’s performance and growth. While the scope of GDP is to measure the monetary value of the goods and services produced in a given year, it is often used as proxy for things that it is not well suited for, such as long-term growth or the well-being of a country. In many cases, economic growth is happening at the expense of nature, and therefore at the expense of future prosperity.

The concept of ‘Green GDP’ was coined in the late 1980s with aspiration to modify GDP to better reflect the impacts of economic activities on the environment. The “Green GDP” is derived from Net Domestic Product (NDP), - which is obtained by subtracting the depreciation of produced assets such as machines and buildings from GDP - by deducting the cost of depletion of natural resources and degradation of ecosystems.

The System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) is the international statistical standard for natural capital accounting, organizing environmental data and linking them to economic data. The SEEA  provides a statistical framework from which aggregated 'green' economic indicators can be calculated. 

The objective of this webinar is to familiarize the audience with headline indicators that can be derived with natural capital accounts using the SEEA as well the World Bank’s approach to adjusting the standard macroeconomic indicators from the System of National Accounts to reflect how the country is managing its natural and human capital. Furthermore, the linkage between the two, and possibilities to complement one with estimates or data from the other, will be explained. 

This webinar is presented jointly by the United Nations Statistics Division and the World Bank as part of the webinar series of the Global Program on Sustainability (GPS) .  This session will be jointly hosted by GPS and the Africa Natural Capital Accounting Community of Practice.



Gemma Van Halderen, General Manager of the Population, Labour, Industry, and Location Insights Division, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Acting Chair of the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental Economic Accounting.



Giles Atkinson, Professor of Environmental Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  


Bram Edens, Senior Statistician with the United Nations Statistics Division.


Stefanie Onder, Senior Environmental Economist in the Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy (ENB) Global Practice, World Bank.


Country experiences

Sam Mugume, Assistant Commissioner, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development, Uganda

Ellen Clowser, Head of Natural Capital Accounts Development, Office of National Statistics, UK

Event recording

Watch the recording here

Event Date

Thursday, 20 April 2023 - 8:00am