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Biodiversity: accounting for nature’s contribution to economy


In March 2021, a new statistical framework was approved, to better account for biodiversity and ecosystems in national economic planning and policy decision-making. It will allow countries worldwide to use a common set of rules and methods to track changes in ecosystems and their services.

The European Commission (EC) supported the United Nations in the development of this framework, with contributions from scientists, statisticians and policy-makers. The new framework goes beyond the commonly used statistic of gross domestic product (GDP) and takes better account of biodiversity and ecosystems in national economic planning.

The EU’s economic prosperity and well-being is underpinned by its natural capital. In the context of the European Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 is calling for the establishment of an international natural capital accounting initiative.

Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) can provide added value in a range of specific policy contexts including EU Sectoral policies. NCA can contribute to the better understanding, articulation, and accounting of the range of services that ecosystems provide. A specific example of policies to which NCA can add value is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

As a next step, the EC is going to propose the revision of the Regulation on European Environmental-Economic Accounts (EEEA) to expand its coverage to include a new module on natural capital accounting, fully consistent with the UN framework. This is in line with the recommendation of the European Court of Auditors and the recent mid-term review of European Strategy for environmental accounts (ESEA) 2019-2023.

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