Communicating the Value of the SEEA

Convincing policy makers and analysts to adopt an idea or use a framework is never easy or as straightforward as one might hope. Those familiar with the SEEA know that it is an innovative framework that integrates data to provide a multipurpose view of the interrelationships between the economy and environment. But how can we convince policy makers of the same and mainstream the use of the SEEA in integrated policy making?

The UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA) recently released an updated communications strategy which aims to guide UNCEEA members in mainstreaming the SEEA. At the heart of this strategy is a ‘sense and respond’ approach that encourages UNCEEA members (or anyone interested in promoting the use of the SEEA) to ‘sense’ or understand their audience and respond and react accordingly. In other words, it emphasizes knowing who your key audiences are, what the key messages are for each audience and making sure your outputs and products reflect your audience.

As part of the UNCEEA’s focus on communication, the most recent meeting in New York last year saw Alan Atkisson (AtKisson Group) and Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly (Australian Bureau of Statistics) introducing the UNCEEA to a change model called the Amoeba model. This model helped UNCEEA members understand the role they play in change and innovation and what they can do to facilitate the adoption of innovations like the SEEA.

In addition, the workshop leader and UNCEEA member, Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly, introduced the UNCEEA to several case studies which illustrated the use of environmental accounts for a wide variety of policy applications including sustainable development evaluations and monitoring the effects of economic changes on natural capital. "The workshop was designed to help countries develop a practical strategy for demonstrating the value of environmental accounting to policy makers in order to accelerate adoption of SEEA," she said.

More recently, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) provided an excellent example of the communications strategy in action. At a recent national workshop launching the Malaysia national plan for SEEA implementation, Dr. Mohd Uzir Mahidin, Chief Statistician of DOSM, unveiled a promotional video for the SEEA. The video, which has been posted on DOSM’s portal, Facebook and Twitter (as well as the SEEA website), explains the SEEA in a short, succinct manner using appealing graphics. The video was developed in-house by the Agriculture and Environment Statistics Division and Information Management Division at DOSM and DOSM plans to further promote the SEEA using the capsule at a variety of seminars and workshops.