European Strategy for Environmental Accounting
The 2003 European Strategy for Environmental Accounting (ESEA) has found broad acceptance in the EU.
The purpose of environmental accounts is to supply information which allows measurement of the objectives of sustainable development, the Europe 2020 strategy and of EU environmental policy. ESEA is updated regularly by Eurostat, in cooperation with the EU member states.
Communication of the Commission on GDP and beyond of 20.8.2009
In its Communication of 20 August 2009, the European Commission set out specific steps to help measure progress beyond GDP. One of the five actions identified as relevant is the requirement to extend national accounts to environmental and social issues.
Regulation (EU) No 538/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts.
In accordance with the Communication of the Commission on GDP and beyond, and with the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy, Regulation (EU) No 691/2011 provided for the development of a data framework that consistently includes environmental issues, in combination with economic ones, as a basis for environmental policy decisions.
Based on the data available in the member states, the Regulation initially included three modules for environmental accounts, namely air emission accounts, environmentally related transfers and material flow accounts.
The development and introduction of new modules, as required under the Regulation, has now been implemented in Regulation (EU) No 538/2014 which was published in April 2014. The new Regulation extends the scope of the original Regulation to include new modules such as environmental protection expenditure, the environmental goods and services sector (EGSS) and physical energy flows.
Global dimension: SEEA
The revised SEEA Central Framework was adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in 2012. Work on three additional portions of the SEEA, namely Implementaion Strategy, Experimental Ecosystem Accounts and Applications and Extensions is ongoing and expected to be completed in 2013.
Stiglitz - Commission (Stiglitz-Sen-Fetoussi Report)
Given the unsatisfactory status of available statistical information on economy and society, an expert commission was established in 2008 upon the initiative of the French government under Nicholas Sarkozy.
The primary task of this “Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress” was to identify the limits of the GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress.
The Commission, chaired by the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, prepared twelve recommendations which indicated what additional information would be required for the production of more relevant indicators of social progress.
The view of the Commission was that the report should be understood as a basis for further scientific work on the issue, and should be developed further in discussions with experts and professionals.
A document entitled "Recommendation of the Council on Material Flows and Resource Productivity", released by the OECD in 2004, gives recommendations on material flows and resource productivity that are aimed at the linkage of environmental and economic data.
The aim of the recommendations is primarily to make expert knowledge on material flows available through transnational cooperation, and to encourage efforts for the development and implementation of methods for data collection as well as indicators and measurement systems for material flows and resource productivity.
On the basis of the above recommendations, a “Recommendation of the Council on Resource Productivity“ was published in 2008. The aim of this recommendation was to further improve resource efficiency, so as to reduce negative environmental impacts from material consumption.
The term resource efficiency thus contains both a quantitative dimension (the quantity of output produced with a given input of natural resources) and a qualitative dimension (the environmental impacts per unit of output). Understood in this way, the efficient management of resources should contribute to economic growth and to the reduction of pressures on the environment, as well as ensure the long-term security of supply of these natural resources.
At international level, a UNSD body of experts published 2003 the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), which is currently under revision by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) and the London group, an international group of experts working on the development of environmental accounts. Its aim is to develop an international statistical standard which covers all aspects of environmental accounting.