What is it? 

The System of Environmental-Economic Accounts for Water (SEEA-Water) is an integrated approach to water monitoring, bringing together a wide range of water related statistics across sectors into one coherent information system. The SEEA-Water is the conceptual framework and set of accounts which presents hydrological information alongside economic information in a consistent way. 

How it works 

SEEA-Water has three main types of accounts to record the hydrological system and its links to the economy:

  1. Physical flow accounts: These accounts record physical flows of water between the environment and the economy. They record the abstraction of water by the economy, how water flows within the economy and the return flows of water back to the environment. Water emission accounts can also be compiled in relation to these flows.
  2. Physical asset accounts: These accounts describe the hydrological cycle over an accounting period. Water stocks and their depletion over the accounting period are presented, including links to the abstraction and consumption of water by the economy.
  3. Economic accounts: This set of accounts presents, among others, flows related to water products, information on the costs associated with water use and supply, and information on water related financing. 

Links to SEEA Central Framework and Ecosystem Accounting 

Water accounts are one of many types of accounts covered by the SEEA Central Framework. The SEEA-Water is an internationally agreed methodological document for water accounts in support of the SEEA Central Framework. The two documents use the same accounting concepts, with SEEA-Water elaborating on their application to water statistics, thus providing an additional resource to those compiling water accounts.

Water is also an important component of ecosystem accounting. Water is a characteristic of ecosystem asset condition, and represents an important ecosystem service (i.e. as a water provisioning service).  

SEEA-Water and the SDGs​ 

The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Goal 6 of the SDGs focuses specifically on water and includes calls for improving water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and the release of hazardous materials, reducing the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse of water. The SEEA-Water methdology can play an important role in measuring these targets by providing a framework for the development of indicators. Click here for more information on Sustainable Development Goal 6.


Publications and Technical Notes

Technical Note for Water

An introduction for those beginning compilation of Water Accounts

Final: English

SEEA-Water Manual

An in-depth guide to SEEA-Water Accounting  

Final: Chinese  English  French  Russian  Spanish

International Recommendations for Water Statistics (IRWS)

Guidelines for the collection, compilation and dissemination of internationally comparable water statistics in line with SEEA-Water

Final:  Arabic  Chinese  English  French  Russian  Spanish

Compilation Guidelines for Water Accounts and Statistics

An in-depth practical guide to compiling water accounts and statistics 

Draft: English