Ecosystem services are essential to human wellbeing. These services include food and fuel resources provided by nature, as well as hydrological cycle regulation, soil erosion control, or pollination by wild animals, among others. Yet, the contribution of ecosystem services is not currently included in national accounts of wealth such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or in related landscape planning. To address this knowledge gap, global initiatives to integrate ecosystem services into the National Accounts are currently taking place. One such effort is the development of System of Environmental Economics Accounts- Experimental Ecosystem Accounts (SEEA-EEA).
The main objective of this project is to contribute to the accounting of ecosystem services by enhancing the knowledge and empirical experience of valuing these services. To achieve this goal and lead to results that are in line with the national accounting principles, we use simultaneous methodologies and applications in all of the seven countries that represent different groups including low, medium and high income countries. By rigorously linking biophysical and socioeconomic data, the results are relevant not only for national accounting but also for local and regional landscape planning.
Valuing pollination, water quality and urban green spaces
The ESAfD project conducts empirical valuation studies regarding water purification services provided by forests, pollination services for crops, and urban green spaces. The project identifies the value of ecosystem services by linking biophysical and socioeconomic data. You can watch the videos for each area by clicking on the links above.
The methods are consistent with SEEA methodology, to help feed the future development of the international standards for ecosystem accounting. The project mostly uses secondary datasets that are already gathered by national agencies. This helps not only to carry a cost-effective study, but also to make it feasible for national authorities to adopt the methods for developing ecosystem services accounting.
Activities and publications
The ESAfD project has already produced four discussion papers and peer – reviewed publications. Currently, there are more than 30 manuscripts under preparation, and four papers already submitted for consideration in peer-reviewed journals. Members of the working group have presented more than 20 papers in international conferences, like the annual conferences of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economics Conference (EAERE), and the annual meetings of the EfD Initiative.
In an effort to feed the development of the SEEA technical recommendations and international standard representatives of the project took part of several events organized by The World Bank and the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD). During the 2017 we participated at the London Group Meeting held in Costa Rica, that is the most important global meeting of environmental accounts, where guidelines for the UN handbooks are identified.
We strengthened relationships with the representatives of UNSD, and during 2018 we co-organized a policy session during the 6th World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists, to help bridge the communities on national accounting and environmental economics. The session was chaired by Juha Siikamäki, Chief Economist of IUCN.
Bram Edens, Senior statistician at UNSD, presented the ecosystem services accounting framework. Matías Piaggio, Senior research fellow at EfD, presented empirical work on ecosystem services accounting for valuation from the ESAfD project. Then, a round table took place, with the participation of practitioners and researchers working closer with the implementation of the accounts. Jane Turpie, Senior research fellow at EfD South Africa, presented on the valuation of ecosystem services for accounting in South Africa. Irene Alvarado, Chief of Environmental Statistics at the Central Bank of Costa Rica presented the implementation of the SEEA-EEA in Costa Rica. Alessandra La Notte, Researcher at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, talked about the construction of ecosystems accounts and policy application in Europe.
The session was attended by more than 40 researchers and practitioners worldwide. The presentations and the round table gave place to a rich open discussion on collaboration across disciplines and paths to follow. This has been an important stage looking for future collaboration and involvement of environmental economists on ecosystem services valuation for accounting
In addition, the work by Dr. Byela Tibesigwa on the relationship between the gender of the head of the household and the dependency of the household on crop pollination services in Tanzania was awarded with the Prize for the Best Poster exhibited at the World Congress on Environmental and Resource Economics 2018. he poster. The best poster was selected by a small committee from different continents (Europe, Asia, America, Africa), by the time that the participants in the congress were also able to vote.
Currently there are three ESAforD work group members taking part in the global review on ecosystem services accounting helping to construct an international standard, coordinated by UNSD. Dr. Juha Siikamäki is currently leading Work Group 5: ‘Valuation of ecosystem services for accounting’. Dr. Jane Turpie and Dr. Matías Piaggio are also part of the same group. Last June 2019 they participated in the Technical Expert Meeting on the Revision of the SEEA EEA.
Tibesigwa, Byela, Juha Siikamäki, Razack Lokina and Jessica Alvsilver. 2019. “Naturally available wild pollination services have economic value for nature dependent smallholder crop farms in Tanzania” Scientific Reports 9:3434
Tibesigwa, Byela. 2018. “Naturally Available Pollinator Decline Will Decrease Household Food Security and Increase the Gender Gap in Nutrition between Men and Women Who Head Smallholder Farm Households in Sub-Saharan Africa.” EfD Discussion Paper Series 18-05.