UNEP updates the Global Manual on Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounting and the Global Material Flows Database

In 2023, UNEP, in close collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), revised the Global Manual on Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounting.  

The revision covered harmonization of Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounts (EW-MFA) category codes, clarification of the material balance, and linkage to the EW-MFA Compiler[i]. In particular, the tables with EW-MFA category classifications in the current version of the Manual include notes with information about where these categories are reflected in the Compiler. The Compiler itself is briefly described in Annex 1 of the Global Manual on EW-MFA.

The Manual, supported by UNEP, UNSD, OECD and Eurostat, summarizes the current methods developed for assembling economy-wide material flow accounts at the national level, and is methodologically coherent with the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).

Currently, UNEP is working on an official translation of the Global Manual on EW-MFA into Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish. Final versions will be available in early 2024 here. The EW-MFA Compiler will also be available in Arabic, French and Russian in early 2024 here.


In a related news, the UNEP International Resource Panel updated in December 2023  the Global Material Flows Database. The database covers more than 200 countries and territories and provides data for core indicators based on the Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounts (EW-MFA) such as Domestic Extraction, Exports, Imports, Physical Trade Balance, Domestic Material Input, Domestic Material Consumption, Raw Material Equivalents of Exports, Raw Material Equivalents of Imports, and Material Footprint for the period 1970-2024.

The Global Material Flows Database is the source of UNEP reporting on SDG indicators 8.4.1/12.2.1 Material Footprint and 8.4.2/12.2.2 Domestic Material Consumption. In March 2024, UNEP will report estimates of these indicators for non-EU countries to the Global SDG Database. Later in the year, UNEP will contact non-EU countries to ask them to validate estimates for Domestic Material Consumption and, if possible, replace it with national data. For EU-countries, UNEP will report country data available in the Eurostat Database.

If you have any questions or requests related to the activities on EW-MFA, please contact the SDG and Environment Statistics Unit of UNEP (unep-ewad-sdgs@un.org) and copy Ekaterina Poleshchuk (ekaterina.poleshchuk@un.org) and Dany Ghafari (dany.ghafari@un.org).



[i] The EW-MFA Compiler was developed by UNEP, in collaboration with CSIRO, in early 2023 to support countries to build Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounts. In addition to providing the basic structure required for these accounts, it also includes a number of simple tools for the calculation of some categories of materials when those categories are not the result of simple summation.