Extraordinary Meeting of the UNCEEA: Leading up to the 52nd UN Statistical Commission

An Extraordinary Meeting of the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA) took place virtually on 16 and 18 November, 2020. The Committee, chaired by Bert Kroese, Deputy Director General of Statistics Netherlands, provides the overall vision, coordination, prioritization and direction in the field of environmental-economic accounting and supporting statistics. Over 70 members from national statistical offices and international organizations took part in the meeting, which discussed the revised System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) as well as the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, ocean accounting and strategic outreach to promote the SEEA.

The meeting was opened by the Director of the Statistics Division, Stefan Schweinfest, who emphasized the importance of integrated measurement systems, such as the SEEA, for the SDGs as well as other national and global policies. He also noted that the SEEA is exemplary of data stewardship, as it necessitates national statistical offices to bring together different data providers and stakeholders. This point was emphasized in a round table discussion on SEEA EA implementation in countries, where Australia, India and United Kingdom shared their experiences in how SEEA EA implementation has motivated the NSO to act as data stewards. During the discussion, IUCN also referred to the recently passed Motion 070, which requests IUCN members to support national statistical offices in the implementation of the SEEA EA. 

With regards to the revised SEEA EA, the Committee applauded the massive work that has gone into the completed draft, as the revision process saw broad engagement with the SEEA community, but also with the scientific community, global indicator and accounting initiatives and policy initiatives. Looking forward, the revised SEEA EA recently underwent global consultation and will be sent to the United Nations Statistical Commission for approval in March 2021. Based on the results of the global consultation and including a contextual note, which will explain issues of implementation and interpretation, the Committee will ask the Commission to adopt the SEEA EA as a statistical standard and encourage its implementation in countries.

The Committee also welcomed the proposal to engage in the development and implementation of the monitoring framework currently being developed as part of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, including a proposal by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for the statistical community and the UNCEEA to guide the process on indicator development for the monitoring framework. In the session on ocean accounting, the Committee showed strong support to develop the SEEA-Ocean, thereby making the contribution of oceans to the economy and people visible for policy. The Committee supported a proposal to develop the SEEA-Ocean under its auspices and in close collaboration with the Technical Committees on the SEEA Central Framework and SEEA EA, as well as the ocean scientific and geospatial communities. During the meeting, the Committee was also briefed on the preliminary results of the global assessment on the SEEA implementation, which has indicated significant uptake of the SEEA; progress made in developing the Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (SF-MST); the update of the 2008 SNA; and upcoming plans for the Working Group on Coordination and Communication, led by Statistics Canada. Minutes of the meeting can be found here.