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UN Releases Central Framework for Environmental-Economic Accounting
April 2014: The ‘System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012—SEEA Central Framework' (SEEA Central Framework), prepared under the auspices of the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA), has been released. The updated statistical framework is meant to help countries compile consistent and comparable data on environmental assets, and interactions between the economy and the environment.
The UN Statistical Commission adopted the SEEA Central Framework as the first international statistical standard for environmental-economic accounting at its forty-third session in March 2012. The standard is intended to be implemented in national economic accounting in a flexible and modular manner, in order to facilitate comparable, high-quality international statistics and provide policy-relevant information at national, regional and international levels.
The framework builds on and harmonizes concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules developed in previous versions of the SEEA released in 1993 and 2003. It has been developed and revised in response to policy demands emanating from the Brundtland Report, Agenda 21, and most recently, outcomes of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).
The revised system enables the organization of environmental and economic information into tables, accounts and indicators to inform research and decision-making across a broad range of issues, including: the assessment of trends in the use and availability of natural resources; the extent of emissions and discharges to the environment resulting from economic activity; and the amount of economic activity undertaken for environmental purposes.
Separate sections of the framework cover: the accounting structure; physical flow accounts; environmental activity accounts and related flows; asset accounts; and account integration and presentation. It also outlines an agenda for future research.
The UNCEEA is a body composed of senior representatives from national statistical offices and international organizations. The SEEA Central Framework was released jointly by the UN, European Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. [Publication: System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012— Central Framework]