Why Environmental-Economic Accounting

IDEEA Speech

Bridging the language gap

Environmental-economic accounting (EEA) bridges the language gap between environmental science and economic management. It defines and frames a standard set of terms and measures for modelling environmental-economic interdependencies.

IDEEA Group helps people on both sides of the traditional environmental-economic divide to understand this new, shared language, and how it applies to their specialised areas of focus.

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It is now recognised that, in order to understand and manage human impacts and dependencies on the natural environment, we need to think about human economic activity as an integral aspect of ecosystem health.

Environmental scientists have developed a myriad of ways to measure the type and extent of human impacts and dependencies on ecosystems, including measures of ecosystem capacity to sustain the flow of ecosystem services.

Decision makers who rely on traditional economic models to justify, assess and manage policies, programs and practices have struggled to credibly and consistently integrate information from these environmental science measurement outputs.

EEA serves as the bridge that enables scientific outputs to be translated into a standardised, integrated and internally consistent metrics for use in economic or financial modelling and reporting.

Applying this new standardised data interface invariably requires interdisciplinary collaboration to evolve long-established data inputting, reporting and decision making practices.

IDEEA Group’s strength lies in facilitating collaboration across specialist disciplines to effectively integrate local ecosystem service models into a common, SEEA compliant framework for planning and reporting.

IDEEA Thought

The new forum for natural systems thinking

Specialists from many areas are now connected via the shared language of EEA as contributors to an ever growing, holistic model of environmental-economic sustainability.

IDEEA Group help specialists from different disciplines to share ideas, explore opportunities, and work side by side to realise the huge potential created by this systemic approach to addressing the challenge of environmental–economic sustainability.

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Opportunities for innovation and dissemination of new insights in discrete specialist areas are now framed by their relevance to the systemic framework inherent in environmental-economic accounting.

Experts in every discipline and role need to understand and embrace the potential inherent in EEA:

  • corporate managers – how to sustain competitive advantage by better managing natural capital to grow ecosystem service capacity
  • financial analysts – how to evaluate long-term investment opportunities in light of their underlying natural capital value
  • ecosystem scientists – how to gain understanding and acceptance around the importance of ecosystem science for resource management
  • policy makers – how to develop evidence-based strategies defined in terms of internationally recognised and comparable benchmarks

IDDEA Group is leading the effort to forge cross-disciplinary networks to foster greater cross-sector collaboration around realising these complementary opportunities.


The platform for global initiatives

As a shared platform for collaboration, EEA now underpins a range of major initiatives across different areas, such as management of national wealth (e.g. WAVES), industry sustainability (e.g. MST) and third world development (e.g. PEAF).

IDEEA Group supports development of EEA applications underlying these initiatives, as well as implementation by participating organisations.

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Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services
A World Bank initiative to promote the value of natural capital accounting across all contexts where investments in social infrastructure are related to environmental sustainability

Poverty Environment Accounting Framework
UN led initiative to standardise accounting for developmental initiatives that focus on the nexus between poverty reduction and environmental management

Measuring Sustainable Tourism
An initiative of the UN’s World Tourism Organization designed to establish standards for reporting on tourism’s role and contribution towards sustainable development

IDEEA Equals

A standardised data interface

EEA is based around standard metrics that provide a stable interface between ecosystem models and economic management.

Overall, EEA aims to reduce the duplication and complexity of data for management by enabling ecosystem-specific data to be integrated and shared by all participants in standardised frameworks.

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EEA does not replace existing models and processes, but rather frames them in a way that makes them generally understandable, and suitable for integration and comparison across geographical boundaries and areas of economic activity.

While EEA metrics are internationally defined by the System for Environmental Economic Accounting, (SEEA), implementation of EEA in any given context requires a context-specific interpretation based on available data drawn from locally relevant models and applied in locally appropriate ways.

By establishing the definition of key environmental-economic metrics that are applicable to any level of geographic aggregation, EEA facilitates practical application of ecosystem data by decision makers for economic planning and reporting.

IDEEA Group’s core competency lies in the cost-effective integration of available environmental data into standard EEA metrics, and their application in context-specific, decision making processes.