SEEA Implementation Now Reflected in Two SDG Indicators

At the tenth meeting of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) held in Addis Ababa, from 21-24 October 2019, members of the group gathered to review proposals for several SDG indicators, including indicator 15.9.1 and 12.b.1. Indicator 15.9.1 measures “Progress towards national targets established in accordance with Aichi Biodiversity Target 2 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.” The SEEA has strong relevance to Aichi Target 2, which refers explicitly to the integration of biodiversity values into policy through national accounting and reporting systems.

To advance this indicator, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Environment and the UN Statistics Division brought a proposal to the IAEG-SDGs, requesting to upgrade the indicator from its Tier III status. The proposal called for a two part indicator. Part A looks at the number of countries that established national targets in accordance with Aichi Target 2 in their National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAP) and the progress reported towards those targets. Part A will be determined by a self-assessment of progress towards national commitments and mapped against the components of Target 2, as identified within each submitted NBSAP. Part B looks at the integration of biodiversity values into national accounting and reporting systems, defined as implementation of the SEEA. The indicator for Part B will look specifically at those countries compiling either the SEEA Central Framework or the SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting. This data will come from the results of the Global Assessment of Environmental-Economic Accounting and Supporting Statistics, which is regularly administered by the UN Statistics Division under the auspices of the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA).

The SEEA is now also part of indicator 12.b.1, under custodian of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Target 12.b is to develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products. Indicator 12.b.1 is progress towards implementation of standard accounting tools to monitor the economic and environmental aspects of tourism sustainability. Implementation of these standard accounting tools will be measured by implementation of the Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008 and the SEEA Central Framework. Similar to indicator 15.9.1, data for this indicator will also come from the Global Assessment of Environmental-Economic Accounting and Supporting Statistics.

The IAEG-SDGs agreed to both proposals and reclassified both indicators from Tier III to Tier II. This indicates that the indicators are conceptually clear, have an internationally established methodology and standards are available. Once the data is made available for these indicators in the global SDG database, it will be reclassified from a Tier II indicator to a Tier I indicator, which also indicates that the indicator has data that are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.

More information on the proposals may be found here