Indicators and Natural Capital Accounting


This  workstream assesses the extent to which indicators from existing indicator sets such as the SDGs and the Aichi targets, as well as emerging data sets such as proposed in the post 2020 Biodiversity Framework can be derived from and/or aligned to the SEEA.

As part of the NCAVES project activities, countries are encouraged to undertake pilot testing of a selected set of SDG indicators using the SEEA EA. To date, the following two working documents have been drafted to provide guidance in this area. 

  • An assessment report “Assessing the linkages between global indicator initiatives, SEEA Modules and the SDG Targets” that review the linkage of SEEA with various global indicator initiatives assessment
  • A guidance document “Using the SEEA EA for Calculating Selected SDG Indicators” that provides an overview of the steps required to implement a national programme of work for indicators, and method notes on compiling SEEA EEA accounts for specific SDG indicators

Assessing the linkages between SEEA EA and global indicator initiatives SEEA

As part of the exercise, national indicator inventories summarizing the national indicator initiatives and their linkages to the SEEA accounts for the 5 project countries are currently being developed. The findings will feed into the global report and provide recommendation

The Expert Meeting on SEEA Indicators for SDGs and Post-2020 Agenda assembled over 40 experts who discussed how indicators derived from the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), specifically the Ecosystem Accounts, can support the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework.  This meeting provided an opportunity for invited experts and representatives from NCAVES project countries to consider the approaches outlined in the assessment and to develop methodological notes related to SDG indicators on land degradation, freshwater ecosystem, urban ecosystem and protected areas. The meeting also identified several engagement events for the Post-2020 process and proposed joint actions among communities on indicators for biodiversity and ecosystem services to further mainstream natural capital accounting in policies. 

As a result of the expert meeting and the subsequent consultation with meeting participants, the Global Indicator Review that summarizes the findings of the indicator assessment and the national indicator inventory was completed in August 2019 and was published as a living document. It provides recommendation on the role of the SEEA Ecosystem Accounting can play in directly supporting the production of SDG indicators.

The Review was referenced in an editorial in the scientific journal Nature( that discussed the positive role the SEEA could play in ensuring progress under the post-2020 global biodiversity framework

Using SEEA EA for calculating selected SDG indicators

The Global Indicator Review identified a set of priority SDG indicator that could be generated by the SEEA for testing in countries. They comprise:

  • SDG 15.1.1 – Forest area as a proportion of total land area.
  • SDG 6.6.1 – Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time.
  • SDG 11.7.1 – Average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, by sex, age and persons with disabilities.
  • SDG 15.3.1 - Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area.

A first draft of a guidance document with an overview of suggested steps for the implementation of a national programme of work for compiling SEEA EA accounts for calculating selected SDG target indicators (6.6.1, 11.7.1, 15.1.1 and 15.3.1) has been prepared including a supplementary document that analyses how the SEEA can be aligned with existing national indicator initiatives.  The guidance document provides an overview of how to compile a set of SEEA EEA accounts to support the calculation of these four SDG indicators. It provides suitable accounting structures to organize information, and a broad overview of associated measurement approaches and data sources to compile relevant accounts and calculate the indicators.

This guidance document is intended to support the NCAVES pilot countries in piloting indicator testing using SEEA EA, given the different accounts each country is producing. The objective of the testing process is to better understand the feasibility of implementing the guidance note and identify the key issues associated with such implementation. Ultimately, the aim is to capture lessons learned and best practices for compilation.  This will allow the guidance document to be improved and support other countries interested in implementing them to calculate the SDG Indicators, including providing case study examples. 

A webinar was held in June 2020 with the NCAVES countries on the testing process, but in a more general setting with a presentation on the post 2020 biodiversity monitoring framework and how the SEEA EEA can support this.


NCAVES Project

Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, are advancing the theory and practice of environmental and ecosystem accounting through the innovative multi-year project  Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) , funded by European Union through a Partnership Instrument, and implemented by the United Nations Statistics Division, in collaboration with UN Environment TEEB office and the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).


Expert meetings and workshops

The SEEA and the SDGs

The SEEA EA is a multipurpose framework which allows the compilation of a whole suite of indicators that are internally consistent as they are derived from an underlying statistical standard.

The UN Statistical Commission at its 45th Session in 2014 recognized the SEEA as an important statistical framework for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators