SEEA Implementation Guide: Building mechanisms for implementation

Building mechanisms for implementation

2. Building institutional mechanisms for implementation

2.0    Overview 
2.1    The steering committee
2.2    Implementation teams/technical groups
Country example: Senegal


2.0 Overview

There are two key parts of the mechanisms that are suggested for implementation, each operating at different levels within the overall system of government agencies. The first is the steering committee tasked with overseeing the implementation of the SEEA in the country. The second part is organizing implementation teams/technical groups tasked with the compilations of priority accounts. It has been observed, in many cases, that engaging with users of the accounts on a regular basis leads to a successful uptake of the SEEA; and as such countries might also wish to consider formally engaging with users through a broad stakeholder reference group. It is important to note, however, that the outlined mechanisms below are only suggestions based on best practices, but each country is free to set-up these mechanisms in the most nationally specific manner.

Figure 1: A suggested illustrative example of a governing and collaborative structure for implementing the SEEA

2.1    The steering committee

First, building on the core national stakeholder group, it is suggested that a steering committee is set up that is capable of overseeing and facilitating the implementation of the national environmental-economic accounts programme of work. This group would be accountable for the progress of work and would maintain and develop the strategic plan and associated recommendations/work plans. Wherever possible and appropriate, it is suggested that the group be established and work within existing policy development and legislative processes and/or use existing governance structures to take on the role of the SEEA steering committee.

The size and membership of the group would be developed as appropriate; it is recommended that the committee contain executive level staff from key agencies, usually including the ministry of finance or planning, the NSO, the ministry of environment, and mapping agency. Existing structures especially in the context of official statistics mechanisms that may already be in place may be considered to take up the role of a steering committee. The steering committee would provide direction to the production and use of the SEEA, set priorities, develops, oversee the work programme and ensure that resources are available to carry out the work programme. The establishment of this committee may come out as a recommendation from the initial national assessment report and the report may also provide recommendations on the appropriate membership and terms of reference for the group.

It may be relevant to develop and release a statement of vision or strategy for the implementation (thus constituting the objectives of the group itself). A statement of strategy represents the overall objective for the successful implementation of the SEEA to enable the evaluation of (a) national sustainability performance and (b) progress towards national and regional sustainability policy objectives.

2.2    Implementation teams/technical groups

The second part of the implementation mechanisms is forming relevant implementation teams/technical groups. It is suggested that separate teams, albeit of potentially overlapping agency membership, be constituted for different areas of environmental-economic accounting. For example, an implementation team for water accounts would have a somewhat different membership from an implementation team for ecosystem condition accounts. At the same time, communication and co-ordination between teams will be important and all teams established would report regularly to the steering committee. It is recommended that both the steering committee and implementation teams/technical groups meet on a regular basis to update datasets, inform progress of account(s) compilation and discuss how to tackle any challenges encountered. It would be highly recommended to have staff dedicated to compilation of the accounts, in addition, it may also be useful to have a dedicated unit within an NSO/implementing agency that is responsible for the day-to-day work on compilation and coordination with various agencies. It is suggested that the unit comprise a statistician(s), a national accountant(s) and a GIS expert(s) where possible.

For some countries, and depending on the scope of work to be undertaken, it might be useful to also have a coordinating statistical group tasked with overseeing and coordinating the compilation of the accounts that are undertaken by several technical groups that focus on a subset of closely related accounts (e.g., specific ecosystem services or measurement of condition for selected ecosystem assets) and is composed of experts from relevant ministries, NSO and academia. Having a coordinating statistical group is recommend especially when implementing ecosystem accounts given the broader number of experts required for the compilation of ecosystem accounts.

The implementation teams would be technically focused on the issues involved in compiling specific accounts. To this end, the first task of an implementation team may be to take the findings of the broad assessment report and the decisions on priority accounts, and formulate implementation plans for specific areas. To meet this objective, it is recommended that the implementation teams would include members from a range of relevant agencies, including both policy agencies and agencies that own/produce data relevant to the account.

Development of implementation plans may need to involve a more detailed assessment of the information needs and requirements for policy purposes and also a more detailed assessment of data availability. The plan may provide recommendations on potential outputs, timeframes and associated costs and resourcing requirements including the need for technical capacity building and staff development. (See also further discussion in the section on compilation and dissemination of accounts.)

By involving all relevant stakeholders, the outcomes contained in the assessment reports and implementation plans may reflect agreement on the assessments of policy priorities, assessments of data availability and assessment of priority accounts. Further, working across agencies in the initial assessment and planning phases may be beneficial in supporting ongoing collaboration, particularly in providing data (e.g. by establishing data sharing agreements) and possibly modifying or augmenting the data collection processes to adapt the data for the requirements of environmental accounting.

Overall, it is suggested that building mechanisms for implementation have the ambition of creating strong networks and mechanisms across agencies and multiple levels and thereby regularize the compilation of the accounts. These mechanisms, their terms of reference and their membership may be reviewed on a regular basis and reflect emerging policy demands and general changes in government operation.

Of course, the mechanisms described here are stylized in nature and there is likely to be a significant benefit in considering how the general objectives of the mechanisms that have been described may be best integrated within existing processes within and across government. It is also worth mentioning that these mechanisms are suggestions and their establishment is voluntary, depending on the national context. Given the more general desire to mainstream environmentally related information within central planning and decision-making contexts, it may be advantageous to use existing mechanisms to the extent possible and appropriate as part of mainstreaming. At the same time, to the extent that existing mechanisms have not engaged with issues surrounding the relationship between the environment and economic activity, establishment of new mechanisms may be considered instead.


Country example: Senegal

The implementation of the SEEA in Senegal started with the compilation of the forest and wood resources account. A Technical Committee was created as part of the protocol with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development for the development of environmental accounts. Financial support was provided by ECA and technical support from FAO was received to compile the forestry accounts in 2019.

In 2021, a pilot project on the compilation of land accounts started with financial and technical support of UNSD. Land accounts were identified as a national priority by the National Agency for Statistics and Demography (ANSD), as well as a base for further development of ecosystem accounts in Senegal. The Technical Committee, previously created, was expanded with several other agencies that were relevant for the compilation of land accounts, among others, Ministry of Environment with several of its directorates, National Agency for Territorial Development (ANAT), Ecological Monitoring Center (CSE), etc. The agencies were invited to nominate a technical level focal point to the Technical Committee. It was formed and met for the first time during the project launch meeting in April 2021.

Throughout the project, the Technical Committee worked on the development of the land accounts, participated in in-person and online trainings and workshops, and as a result compiled the land accounts and drafted the final report. The Technical Committee members brought the data and expertise needed for the compilation of the accounts in Senegal from their respective agencies under the leadership of ANSD. They also provided their expert input into the compilation and facilitated high-level contacts in their respective agencies for the development of a National Plan for Advancing Environmental-Economic Accounting in Senegal.

The National Plan, which has not been finalized yet, proposes the establishment of a national Steering Committee as the decision-making body responsible for facilitating the mobilization of resources, approving the work plan and assessing its implementation status. The Steering Committee will supervise external communication operations and participate in advocacy with the authorities and technical and financial partners. It will include producers and users of environmental statistics at a higher-level. The current Technical Committee may be converted to the Steering Committee and complemented with technical implementation groups for elaboration of each account according to the National Plan. The technical working groups will provide the technical supervision of the work of compiling the accounts, monitor activities and produce periodic reports on the status of the work.

For publications related to SEEA see ANSD website.