SEEA Implementation Guide: Mainstreaming the SEEA

Mainstreaming the SEEA


5.    Mainstreaming the SEEA
5.1    Mandates for the regular production of the accounts
5.2    Formalizing relationships between institutions
5.3    Leveraging other initiatives
5.4    Funding mechanisms
5.5    From piloting to regular production
Country example: Kenya

5.    Mainstreaming the SEEA

The value and usability of the SEEA increases as more accounts are compiled on a regular basis. This allows for, among others, tracing progress over time and a more complete understanding of the relationship between economic activity and the environment. The regular compilation of the accounts requires a clear mandate and resources to be in place to produce the accounts. The steering committee will most likely be the one responsible for managing the institutionalization of the SEEA. In this section, we turn our attention to issues around legal mandates and funding mechanisms needed to facilitate moving from piloting to the regular production of the accounts.

5.1    Mandates for the regular production of the accounts

The approach to institutionalizing the production of the accounts depends on the overall legal framework in place in the country for the compilation of official statistics.

In some countries, a clear mandate from parliament is required, specifying the accounts to be compiled (potentially as part of a broader approval of the programme of work of the national statistical system). In others, the mandate for the compilation of the accounts is given by the council of ministers or a similarly high-level executive body. Yet in others, the mandate could be included in the national strategy for the development of statistics or through some other means. Once the most appropriate approach to having a legal mandate for the regular production of the accounts has been identified and agreed upon by the steering committee, appropriate steps should be taken to implement the agreed approach.

It should be noted that besides the more traditional avenues for getting a mandate for the regular compilation of the accounts such as laws/regulations/decrees focused on official statistics, other avenues include laws/regulations/degrees focused on, for example, managing ecosystem or natural resources that could specify the compilation of the accounts (see below for more details). Lastly, it might be the case that the current legal framework already allows for the compilation of the accounts (e.g. legal framework is broad/vague or empowers the chief statistician to initiate the regular compilation of new outputs).

A summary of the various approaches follows in the table below:


Main advantages

Main disadvantages

Law/regulation adopted by parliament

Strongest legal mandate

Higher chance of regular funding

Longer process

Higher uncertainty of outcome


Regulation adopted by the council of ministers or similar high level executive body

Strong legal mandate

Potentially long process

Work programme on the SEEA agreed to by the advisory board of the NSO or similar as part of the NSDS/similar document

Generally quicker process

Legal mandate not as strong

5.2    Formalizing relationships between institutions

The regular compilation of the accounts requires collaboration among different institutions. The mandate for the regular compilation of the accounts should empower the NSO (or other agencies leading the compilation group) to access the relevant data compiled by government agencies and other institutions. Formal arrangements should be put in place whenever possible to formalize the roles and responsibilities of different data producers through memoranda of understanding or other similar instruments. The arrangements should not only specify data sharing protocols but also foster a deeper relationship between institutions as part of a more systematic engagement throughout the entire production process of the accounts (from prioritization of accounts to be compiled and data needs to dissemination and outreach activities).

5.3    Leveraging other initiatives

An important, if not the most important consideration, when determining which accounts to compile is their use in developing and/or measuring progress in the implementation of policies. The development of new policy initiatives can be a good opportunity to include mandates for compiling environmental economic accounts. Examples include having mandates for energy and air emission accounts as part of policy initiatives on adaptation and mitigation to climate change; and more broadly including national capital accounting as a tool for measuring progress in the national development plans.

5.4    Funding mechanisms

The regular compilation of the accounts requires dedicated resources.

Often the accounts utilize data that has already been collected; and as such there is no need to conduct major new surveys or collect new administrative data which can be expensive undertakings. What is often needed is to fully align the collection of basic data so that it can be used in the accounts. This requires updates to the definitions, classification and methodologies used in some surveys to ensure that the data can be readily used in the accounts. In some cases, data gaps in the accounts might be filled by adding questions to surveys or collecting additional administrative data.

For most countries, the major requirement from a funding perspective is to have dedicated staff in the NSO and other ministries with a strong environment-linked portfolio tasked to work on the accounts. Senior managers in general have the prerogative to assign staff to work on the accounts; and this can help to fill some of the human resources needs for the compilation of the accounts.

For some accounts, in particular ecosystem accounts, there might be a need to bring in staff with a different skill set than what is already available within the NSO (e.g., GIS specialist or ecologists); secondment of staff from different agencies to the NSO can help with having the right expertise for the compilation of accounts. The in-kind contributions of experts from different institutions should be included as part of the MOUs between the various institutions. If there is a need for new staff, the resources required should be part of the mandate for the compilation of the accounts whenever possible.  

An additional potential source of funding, especially at the beginning stages, is to leverage other initiatives. As noted above, other initiatives related to the environment can serve as a vehicle for getting the mandate to compile accounts. Funding/resources issues should also be considered as part of the broader need for compiling the accounts in support of the initiatives.

5.5    From piloting to regular production

The aim of the implementation of the SEEA should be the regular production of accounts which entails the publication of official environmental economic accounts on an annual basis. In most instances, countries compile pilot accounts initially. This allows for a more complete understanding of data availability and data gaps, and getting feedback from users on improving the accounts in future iterations. The two major components needed to move from piloting to regular production are the legal mandate and resources which were discussed above. The resources need to compile particular accounts will vary depending on what basic data is already collected and how easily it can be aligned with the accounting framework. For some accounts such as energy where in general there is good basic data, the resource requirements can be low as no new data collection is needed. Other factors that could contribute to achieving the regular production of the accounts include: sustained demand from user groups for the accounts which can be achieved through engagement with policy initiatives from the initiation stage to ensure that the accounts can provide the data needed for informing the development and implementation of the policies as appropriate; and disseminating outputs that are use friendly to the different audiences target by the accounts.

It should be noted that moving from pilot accounts to regular production often entails automation (e.g. programming routines that makes compilation much faster) and formalizing the production process (e.g. develop release strategy; ensuring the data quality standards are satisfied). Automation and formalization of the production process lessen the resources required for the regular production of the accounts in the long run.


Country example: Kenya

SEEA work began in 2017 in Kenya, with Technical Assistance and a consultant from the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD). To this end, a national stakeholder’s workshop was held in May, 2017 and recommended three key priority accounts: energy, water and forests. Energy was identified as the top priority account to be produced because it was one of the then Government’s key projects with the aim of electrifying every last household in Kenya. In addition, most of the energy data sources were administrative in nature hence readily available.

Consequently, Kenya produced and published the first set of pilot physical energy supply and use tables in April 2018. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) was identified as to lead the process of Environmental-Economic Accounts because of its role as the custodian of all official statistics in Kenya and coordinator of the National Statistical System which is composed of all data producers and users in the country. The process of compiling the accounts involved building a partnership between data providers, the KNBS, and users; considering the applications/uses of the accounts; designing the structure of accounts; conducting data mining where necessary with stakeholders; compilation of accounts (this was an iterative process); verification of the accounts produced and final publication of the accounts. In Kenya’s case, it was important to start with an energy balance to understand the demand and supply of energy products. It was also important to convert all energy produced/used and imported/exported in the country into a common unit of measure (terajoules).

The accounts were well received by the Government and have since been pivotal to policy making in the country. For example, Kenya has, since 2018, increased renewable sources of electricity from 60 per cent in 2013 to 79 per cent in 2022. Further, the government introduced an adulteration levy on illuminating kerosene in 2018 to stimulate clean cooking methods. As a result, LPG use has increased consistently since then.

The original pilot accounts were around 60 per cent complete. A number of gaps from both administrative and survey data sources were identified in the accounts. For example, petroleum demand data was only available by product ad not by ISIC economic activity/sector as recommended in the SEEA Framework and IRES. Most of these data gaps could be filled by sensitizing the data producers on the need and use of accounts and in some cases by re-organizing their data collection tools. Multi-agency collaboration was identified as one of the solutions to these challenges. As a result, the National Energy Statistics Technical Working Committee (NESTwC) was formed in 2020 with the aim of harmonizing data sets from various producers, validating data used in the accounts and promoting use of the accounts for policy making. Membership of the technical committee is drawn from all energy public agencies including the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum; the Ministry of Environment, Climate change and Forestry, the Kenya electricity Generating company, the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, the Kenya Power and Lighting company, the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation and the Geothermal Development Company. The committee meets on a quarterly basis and the KNBS acts as the secretariat. Over the last 2 years, there has been continuous improvement in the accounts. There has been attempts by the Power and lighting company to disaggregate it’s data by economic activities as opposed to consumer categories. Similar attempts have been noted in the petroleum sub-sector. Further, there have been attempts by the KNBS to re-organize their existing data collection instruments in order to collect additional information for the accounts.

As a result of increased demand for the pilot accounts of 2018, Kenya has subsequently been producing Energy accounts on an annual basis.  What worked for the country was Energy was a high priority for the Government of the day (identifying priority areas for the Government is very critical); KNBS Staff worked with technical Assistance (consultant) step by step hence were able to replicate the accounts in subsequent years; Availability of data (most of the data is administrative); goodwill and support from the government; vibrant technical working committee (NESTwC) comprising  Ministries, Departments and Agencies; continuous support by UNSD and regular trainings. Kenya continues to face challenges in account compilation, but it continues to make progress in addressing these challenges. The country has now embarked on compiling Monetary energy accounts and Physical Supply and Use tables for water.