Natural Capital Accounting Project


SEEA in Mexico

Five countries, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, will be experimenting with ecosystem accounting as part of the European Union-funded “Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services” project. The work is based upon the SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EEA) that is being developed under the auspices of the United Nations Statistical Commission.

Ecosystems provide a range of valuable goods and services, such as clean water, fertile soils and recreation opportunities. Natural capital accounting (NCA), also known as environmental-economic accounting, makes these contributions visible and in an analytically rigorous way.

This project’s objectives are to:

•           Improve the measurement of ecosystems and their services (both in physical and monetary terms) at the national and/or subnational levels;

•           Mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem accounts in national and/or subnational policy-planning and implementation;

•           Contribute to the development of internationally agreed methodology and its use in partner countries.


Work is under way on the following pilots:

Brazil: Pilot in Rio Grande hydrographic basin and states of Maranhao-Tocantins-Piaui-Bahia (Matopiba) focusing on soil, water and carbon-related services.

China: Pilots ongoing under the framework of “ecological civilization” in the provinces of Guangxi Autonomous Region and Guizhou and at the national level to support the natural resource balance sheet program.

India: A suite of ecosystem accounts will be assessed in pilots covering multiple Indian states.

Mexico: Building on earlier pilot accounts for the state of Aguascalientes, ecosystem extent, condition and services accounts will be compiled at the state and national level.

South Africa: Various types of ecosystem accounts will be compiled, including ecosystem services accounts for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, and ecosystem extent accounts at the national level.

About the project

The European Union has mobilized the Partnership Instrument to secure funding for a 4-year project which is implemented as a partnership between the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD). The project is managed by UNSD.

The following work streams are carried out leading to a range of deliverables:

  • Piloting ecosystem accounts

    • In each of the 5 partner countries for selected areas (national and/or regional) selected ecosystem accounts in physical terms will be compiled;
    • Economic valuation of ecosystem services and natural capital will be conducted;
    • The accounts will be used in scenario analysis assessing policy relevant
    • A national plan for implementing and mainstreaming NCA will be developed based on a policy mapping and the results of the project;


  • Developing guidelines and methodology

    • Results from the pilots will contribute to the development of a global statistical standard (the revised SEEA EA) by 2020;
    • Practical technical guidance will be developed for biophysical modeling and valuation;


  • Indicators

    • An assessment undertaken on how the SEEA is able to inform and embed global and national indicator programs;
    • NCA will be positioned in the context of SDG measurement and the post 2020 biodiversity agenda;


  • Business accounting (sustainability reporting)

    • Through workshops it will be explored how ecosystem accounts can contribute to alignment between NCA and corporate sustainability reporting


  • Communication and outreach

    • Awareness raising by demonstrating the added value of NCA (both for regional; national and global audiences);
    • Through the development of a wide range of products including a knowledge base; newsletters; social media and webinars;  


  • Training and capacity development

    • Technical capacity in countries and regions will be built both among statisticians and policy makers, through a range of training activities and e-learning.


Mexico ecosystem types