Sizing up Europe’s natural resources and services

EU-backed project delivers fact sheets on the state of play of natural capital accounting (NCA) in 10 European countries.

NCA calculates an ecosystem’s total assets and the flows of natural resources and services it provides to society. It is a powerful tool to inform both the public and private sectors on natural resources.

The current capacity and implementation of NCA initiatives vary greatly amongst the 27 EU Member States. Some have not started yet, while others have established full-scale NCA with their statistics administrations.There is major impetus to develop sound NCA. The EU’s Biodiversity strategy for 2030 calls on all Member States to improve knowledge of ecosystems and their services. This includes mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services, and evaluating the economic values of such services, as well as promoting the integration of these values into EU and national accounting and reporting systems.

To promote NCA development in Europe, the EU-funded MAIA project has developed fact sheets presenting the current state of NCA in 10 European countries. These documents summarise the NCA situation in Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain. They present the needs from the policy, society, science and business domains for using NCA, provide an overview of a country’s continuing and published research, including knowledge gaps, and contain contact details and an outline of national partners and stakeholders involved in the accounts. MAIA liaison persons in the participating countries review, co-author and update the content.

“MAIA allows us to carry out initiatives to implement ecosystem accounting on a national scale,” commented Assoc. Prof. Fernando Santos Martin of project partner Rey Juan Carlos University and Spain national coordinator in a news release posted on the ‘EurekAlert!’ website. “In addition, it also helps us to share experiences among the different groups involved in the project.”

The fact sheets offer an accessible overview and starting point for collaboration. Users who are not part of the MAIA consortium are encouraged to submit information on their NCA state of affairs. Furthermore, there is a contact form and a frequently asked questions area for interested parties who have additional questions or want to participate in fruitful discussions with MAIA’s experts.

The information materials will be updated once more before the project ends to assess MAIA’s impact in the 10 countries. Lastly, the fact sheets will compare policy priorities at national and European levels.In the past, there was no common framework to measure ecosystem accounts. The researchers are applying the United Nations’ System of Environmental Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) as the methodological basis for NCA. The SEEA EA is an integrated, thorough statistical framework used to organise data on habitats and landscapes, measure ecosystem services, track changes in ecosystem assets, and link all this information to economic and other human activity.

The main aim of MAIA (Mapping and Assessment for Integrated ecosystem Accounting (MAIA)) is to encourage the mainstreaming of NCA in nine EU Member States and Norway. It will also estimate policy priorities for accounting, evaluate innovative techniques for NCA across Europe and support diverse communication activities. The project ends in October 2022.

For more information, please see:

MAIA project website

last modification: 2021-12-16 17:15:01
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