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System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries

The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Rome, March 31st 2020. FAO publishes today the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (SEEA AFF), providing users in member countries with a coherent statistical framework to help them understand sustainable food and agriculture systems, highlighting the complex relationships that exist between relevant statistics on the economy, people and the environment. The SEEA AFF contributes to the overall SEEA accounting platform, which is endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission as the reference tool for bringing together economy and environment statistics, in support of natural capital accounting, ecosystems services evaluation, biodiversity assessment and SDG monitoring and reporting.

The SEEA AFF is increasingly applied to country assessments and projects with the support of the international community, including FAO–through the Natural Capital and Ecosystems Services Programme of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the EC JRC and the World Bank

How does it work?

The accounts in the SEEA AFF are compiled using national statistics, mostly at the level of the individual product, and use two main types of accounts to capture relevant agriculture, forestry and fisheries information:

1.      Flow accounts. In physical terms, they record physical flows of agriculture, forestry, and fishery products between the environment and the economy. Parallel monetary accounts record the monetary flows associated with agriculture, forestry and fishery transactions for products.

2.    Asset accounts. They measure the quantity of agriculture, forestry and fishery resources and changes in these resources over an accounting period. These accounts are usually compiled in physical terms, to provide important information on the available stock of underlying environmental assets and their variation over time. 

Selected agricultural variables derived from flow and asset accounts are furthermore brought together in combined presentations, to provide users with cross-cutting perspectives on a number of themes.

Default National Accounts

The SEEA AFF methodology introduces the option for users to compile national accounts at ''Tier 1,'' i.e., using available statistics from FAOSTAT and other relevant international databases, as a default option, to be applied for instance when national data are lacking or incomplete. Of relevance to SEEA AFF Tier 1 compilation, FAO collects a wealth of data from its member countries, analyzing them and disseminating annually-updated statistics and indicators on crop and livestock production, input use, land use and land cover, water, greenhouse gas emissions, among others. This "Tier 1"" approach was originally developed by the International Panel on Climate Change for country reporting the UN climate convention. It allows all countries, independent of their statistical capacity and data availability, to produce an initial, simplified yet robust set of SEEA AFF accounts.  Even as country capacity improves and national statistics become available, ''Tier 1" accounts can be used for quality control/quality assessment of nationally-produced accounts, as well as to identify gaps and needs in statistics for SDG reporting, natural capital accounting and food systems analysis.

Capacity Development

The SEEA AFF is increasingly being tested in countries. Select accounts for forestry and forest resources were compiled in 2019 for several African countries, including Morocco, Cameroon and Senegal, in cooperation with UNECA. In 2020, the SEEA AFF is being introduced as the core statistical framework for the joint analysis of agriculture and biodiversity issues in two FAO-GEF country projects proposals for Afghanistan and Sudan.

©Sebastian Liste/NOOR for FAO  ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
©FAO/L. Dematteis  ©FAO/Sergei Gapon

Contact

Francesco N. Tubiello
Senior Statistician
Team Leader, Environment
Statistics Division

Silvia Cerilli
Natural Capital Accounts Specialist
Environment Team
Statistics Division