The SEEA is well-positioned to support the post-2020 global biodiversity framework as it focuses on measuring ecosystems diversity, their extent, condition and services generated while also helps make the case for protecting and conserving biodiversity by providing a full picture of its connection to the economy. In particular, the information generated by the SEEA can be used to inform biodiversity policies in an integrated manner and develop indicators for monitoring progress toward the biodiversity target. An assessment report from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre and United Nations Statistics Division shows that 61 of the current Aichi Target indicators are fully or partially aligned with the SEEA. In addition, the UNCEEA has identified at least seven targets that currently lack indicators, for which the SEEA could provide the necessary information. In addition, as part of the CBD commitments, 190/196 of the parties have developed at least one National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (NBSAP), which is the main vehicle for implementing the CBD recommendations at the national level. The SEEA can provide valuable information for NBSAPs, helping to both prioritize conservation efforts and assess country-level implementation.
Moreover, the SEEA’s measurement on the role of biodiversity in supporting the economy helps make the economic case for conservation, as it can present this information in both physical and monetary terms. Its integrated systems approach can clarify the major drivers of biodiversity loss and ecosystem changes, identify key trade-offs, and support the development of “win-win” conservation approaches. Ecosystem accounts used in combination with information on expenditures can also provide decision-makers with a clear picture of the return-on-investment from biodiversity protection. The SEEA can also be used to measure level of effort through tracking expenditures on conservation efforts in both the public and private sectors. More on how the SEEA can be used for effective biodiversity policies can be found in our new publication, Natural Capital Accounting for Integrated Biodiversity Policies (United Nations, 2020).
Further work on accounting for biodiversity
A key area of interest is on the potential for the SEEA to support policy and decision-making concerning the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity at levels other than ecosystems While there is widespread agreement that the SEEA is a useful framework to measure biodiversity, there exist a variety of perspectives on how the SEEA can better reflect the measurement of biodiversity, particularly at the species and genetic level. To make progress on these issues and to contribute to the revision of the SEEA EEA, a group on accounting for biodiversity in the SEEA EEA was established in early 2020, spanning membership from both the biodiversity and environmental-economic accounting communities. For more information on this group, please see its terms of reference.