Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services in China

Launched in early November 2017 in Beijing, the European Union funded project ‘Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services’ is supported by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and implemented by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS). The inception meeting was hosted by the NBS with representatives from the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Land and Resources, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, State Forestry Administration, Chinese Academy of Science, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Bureau of Statistics and Guizhou Bureau of Statistics. The meeting initiated the assessment of the project work streams in the context of the national policy programme for compiling national resource balance sheet within the general framework of ecological civilization to achieve sustainable development in China. An initial proposal to strengthen the national compilation of natural resource balance sheet on land, forestry and water and pilot ecosystem accounting in the provinces of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province was also agreed upon.

As part of the follow up activities, UNSD undertook the second assessment mission to China together with the UN Environment from 21-29 May 2018. The objective of the mission was to provide technical assistance to the NBS on strengthening the national compilation of natural resource balance sheet on land, forestry and water, and piloting ecosystem accounting in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province. 

The project team visited Guangxi and Guizhou from 21-25 May to assess policy priorities and existing work on ecosystem assessment, address technical issues and design the work programme to implement ecosystem accounting in the provinces using the SEEA approach. The project team also held a stakeholder meeting and conducted a series of bilateral meetings in Beijing from 27-29 September to discuss the national work programme and address methodological issues related to the use of SEEA for the natural resource balance sheet and pilot ecosystem accounting programme in China.

The mission found that great progress has been made in the field of natural capital accounting in China in recent years. NBS has coordinated the work of many line departments and has also promoted the use of common approaches. Of particular interest is the high level of policy support for natural capital accounting and the direct link that can be made to use accounts in support of natural resource management. The outcome of the mission has led to an agreement of a 3-year national plan for the project implementation from 2018-2020. It is expected the project will strengthen the capacity of NBS to measure and value environmental assets and ecosystem services along with contributing to the development of ecological compensation standards for policy making in China.