Launch of MAIA, a new EU Horizon 2020 project

The MAIA project, a new EU Horizon 2020 project, recently started in late November 2019. Accounts are being piloted in ten participating countries -- Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway and Spain – and will include extent, condition, supply & use, asset and biodiversity accounts. The MAIA project is being carried out in the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020 Target 2 Action Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES), relying on the SEEA-Experimental Ecosystem Accounting as the methodological basis for natural capital accounting.

The MAIA project is being carried out by a consortium which includes a balanced mix of partners with backgrounds in statistics, ecological modelling and environmental economics, including three statistical agencies. Overall coordination of MAIA is being led by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and MAIA partners are involved in several related initiatives, such as the London Group of Environmental Accounting, MAES, IPBES and KIP INCA. In addition, MAIA has 18 supporting partners, including statistical and other government agencies, in the ten participating countries. The project will take a collaborative approach, with countries sharing experiences and methodologies with each other and enhanced coordination between ongoing initiatives.

As background, the MAIA project is being done as a direct follow-up to the ESMERALDA (Enhancing ecosystem services mapping for policy and decision-making) project. The ESMERALDA project, which was carried out from 2015 to 2018, was led by a consortium of academic and research institutions to investigate the needs of policy and decision-makers in EU member states for flexible methodologies, tools and data for sustainable management of ecosystems and their services, which lies at the core of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

The ESMERALDA project aimed to deliver a flexible methodology -- built on existing ES projects and databases (e.g. MAES, OpenNESS, OPERAs, national studies), the SEEA, the Millennium Assessment (MA) and TEEB -- to provide the building blocks for pan-European and regional assessments. Its main outcomes included a flexible methodology and tiered approach for ecosystem services mapping, valuation, accounting and assessment, among others.