An Open Access Article

Type: Research Article
Volume: 2021
DOI:
Keywords: SDGs, MDGs, Natural Capital Accounting, Ecosystem Accounting, SEEA, PSUT, IEEM, LDCs, Framework, M &E, ICAEW, Rio+20, Biodiversity, Carrying capacity
Relevant IGOs: United Nations (UN)

Article History at IRPJ

Date Received: 2021-04-21
Date Revised:
Date Accepted: 2021-04-28
Date Published: United Nations (UN)
Assigned ID:

The Importance of Ecosystem Accounting in the Policy Agenda of the SDGs

Adeyemi Oluwole OPEOLUWA

EUCLID | AN INTERGOVERNMENTAL UNIVERSITY

SCHOOL OF DIPLOMACY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

POLE UNIVERSITAIRE EUCLIDE

BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

 

Email: Adeyemi.opeoluwa@gmail.com

Corresponding Author:

Pr Devender BHALL, HDR (Editor)

Email: bhalla@mail.euclid.int

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the Importance of Ecosystem Accounting in the policy agenda of the seventeen point Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a comprehensive qualitative study of several archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports and research papers on the subject—Natural Capital Accounting (NCA)— from 2015 through to 2021.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals policy Agenda was developed and adopted with the sole mandate of updating the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The design of the  SDGs had in mind several chief goals of which one was to reduce worldwide poverty and improve respect for the carrying capacity of the planet by assisting in the reversal of the several negatives affecting the planet as a result of impact from industrial and economic processes, population growth and inadequate policy frameworks.

To evaluate how much and how far SDGs policy agenda had achieved required the use of  Monitoring and Evaluation (M &E) tools, concepts, and methodologies. The SEEA and PSUT are two examples of an effective M & E framework.

Ecosystem Accounting principles (EA) were designed to precisely allow us [stakeholders] to understand how much of the SDGs have been adopted and implemented by governments, industries, agencies, and civil societies. To this end, this study attempts to demonstrate the importance of how Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) methodologies can assist in the generation of reliable data for the evaluation of the level of compliance by various stakeholders concerning the adoption and implementation of the SDGs.

INTRODUCTION

In 2015 at the UN summit in New York, the UN Sustainable Development Goals was adopted. The SDGs had seventeen policy Agenda with 169 different indicators that would be used to evaluate performance and implementation. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, which had several drawbacks, the SDGs were developed strategies to address the weaknesses inherent in the MDGs. For example, governments, the business community, and all stakeholders were consulted at various levels in developing the policy agenda of the SDGs (see Figure 1). Because of the approach employed in developing the SDGs, the business world considered it a strategy for new opportunities for advancing their activities.[i]

In the first instance, there is a clear requirement to be met if the planet’s current state is to be reversed, especially in resource management and environmental quality. The SDGs were designed to ground up to help meet the requirements for the reversal of various untoward events on the planet.  A primary requirement was to provide for the financial requirements necessary for institutional and technological resources required to implement the SDGs and establish effective monitoring frameworks for evaluating the level of compliance or implementation.

One of the ways to kick-start this process was the global endorsement of the Addis Ababa Action on Financing for Development which was at the same time supported by data gathering the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators.[ii]

There is the need to take into cognizance the make-up of the SDGs. It is a framework and policy Agenda that has to be implemented wholly; that is, it is designed to be implemented indivisibly to take into account that economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability cannot be pursued in isolation if we are to embark on a sustainable development path; and universal, as the burden of their implementation (as well as the risks of a failure) will fall upon the international community as a whole.[iii]

 

Figure: 1 Key user of information related to the Sustainable Development Goals[iv]

 

THREE CONDITIONS REQUIRED FOR INSTITUTING THE SDGs

The United Nations established the Sustainable Development Goals to bring governments, civil societies, and other stakeholders together to foster a singular mandate of understanding the linkages between the environment, social and economic challenges facing the planet in the 21st century. The environment as it is holds the substance of human, animal, and plant life. Its importance cannot be overemphasized, and this has to be acknowledged together with an understanding of the critical dynamics of how our ecosystem is assisting to sustain human wellbeing.

There is a need to understand that there are limits, and these limits are not to be exceeded if the carrying capacity of any ecosystem is to be maintained. In setting goals for managing the policy agenda of the SDGs, it is crucial and imperative that these goals be guided by actual knowledge of how social systems and interactions would be affected by the implementation of the SDGs.[v]

Putting Ecosystems into the SDGs

Ecologists have warned that we are currently in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, which refers to the fact that there have been five moments when species have experienced extinction in Earth’s history massive rates. However, unlike previous mass extinctions, this one is wholly attributable to the pressures humans are putting on the ecological system, which is sometimes referred to as the “Anthropocene.”[vi]

The economic community, especially ecological economists, have come to the clear conclusion that development cannot happen without inputs from the environment. Therefore, a consensus is that the environment has to be kept—that is, sustained.

In September of 2020, leaders from various nations and files met at the United Nations in New York and drew a set of guidelines for the SDGs, which led to the complete eradication of hunger in the world by 2030. The goals took their underpinnings from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). However, they had a better strategy in that all stakeholders were to be held accountable for the development and were to consider the environment explicitly in all development programs.[vii]

At the Rio+20 conference in 2012, all UN member states agreed to develop new basic steps to guide policies and efforts on development until 2030. One of the crucial fallouts from this conference was the Agenda for agricultural resilience. It was argued that sustainable agriculture would lead the strategy to support the end of hunger; it was of obvious importance to bring to the importance they need to address inequality, right to use to safe drinking water and sanitation, and good sources of nutrition.

Care must be taken to simultaneously defeat hunger, increase agricultural productivity and avoid adverse impacts on the natural resource base,” said Claudia Ringler, co-leader of WLE’s research theme on Managing Resource Variability and Competing Uses. “If we do not address critical interlinkages among goals and targets and reduce tradeoffs, several goals will remain out of reach of the poorest.[viii]

The interlinkages between eradicating poverty, meeting basic human needs and rights, and preserving the environment cannot be challenged as a strategy. However, there is a need to monitor the tradeoffs to end hunger through agricultural initiatives properly. Matters relating to the loss of biodiversity and land overuse, and pollution of scarce water resources could, in turn, upend the strategy for ending hunger if not adequately monitored and evaluated.[ix]

ACCESSING SDGS:  A NEW METHODOLOGY  TO MEASURE SUSTAINABILITY

According to the center for Eni Enrico Mattei Foundation (FEEM), stated in a research paper presented at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development Goals, New York, September 25, 2015, stated the obvious need to assess the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN member states in 2015. The importance of monitoring and evaluating the seventeen policy Agenda of the SDGs is to appraise the progress of 139 countries concerning the adoption of sustainability practices, future direction by 2030 and to understand if, in fifteen years, what could hold in terms of socio-economic terms to our planet regarding the requirements to meet the SDGs targets.

To achieve a baseline and assessment data, the following methodology has been planned and in effect.[x]

  1. Experts and stakeholders monitor crucial indicators that would be applied to address the UN SDGs
  2. Data collection and collation from relevant sources for evaluation and processing

How organized are participating countries, firms, or stakeholders implementing the three-dimension of the SDGs: the economic, social, and environmental dimensions. In order words, how much of these are implemented and considered in budgets, national financial planning, and other activities of various governments and non-governmental organizations

  1. How much of the previous abnormalities have been corrected and are currently under review
  2. Multi-dimensional processing of all data gathered for decision making concerning the extent of compliance for grading and advisory services[xi]

The above methodology was designed to ensure that data is organized to ensure that all of the twenty-seven indicators of the SDGs and the 139 participating countries are represented in determining a usable baseline for the study. The study refers to all of the seventeen UN SDGs with the participating country for this study, mainly drawn from the European Union due to verifiable evidence that the EU nations operated the highest implementation percent concerning its social and economic development indices.[xii]

Evaluating and understanding how much of the SDGs have been implemented and adopted by various stakeholders deserves a multidisciplinary approach. For example, the institution of accountants has deemed it fit to evaluate the importance and impact of the SDGs through the instrument of financial accounting. One of the policy Agenda of the SDGs talks about funding and assistance provision for financing the SDGs by wealthier countries towards the more impoverished countries or emerging economies (Goal 8 and 10).[xiii] No wonder the financial sector is taking the lead in accepting the challenges funding and finance may pose to implementing the SDGs.

According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), achieving the UN SDGs has created an enabling role for accounting. The ICAEW has developed and still developing linkages between the accounting profession and individual Sustainable Development Goals and making a case for multidisciplinary investigations and inviting innovation in theoretical accounting frameworks. Furthermore, the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals provide a context for (re)stimulating financial accounting’s involvement and contribution to sustainable development debates.[xiv]

TEN PRIORITY CHALLENGES OF THE SDGS

Studies have shown that there ten central challenges or roadblocks to achieving the SDGs. Research organized by the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (LC-SDSN) identified these ten crucial sustainable development challenges as an interconnected actor related to the four dimensions of sustainable development (Annex 2 of the SDGs policy Agenda).[xv]

Some of the key players in achieving the SDGs include the interests of governments, civil societies, and businesses across all spectrums. Governments are required to maintain peace and stability internally, regionally, and internationally. Governments not only play significant functions in the previous mention roles in the preceding paragraph but also maintain the rule of law, proper governance, and the provision of public goods and services to their diverse citizenries, and more importantly governments provide and are required to assist in legislations and design policies to address the four dimensions of sustainable development.[xvi]

The ten[xvii] central challenges for the adoption and implementation of the UN SDGs is listed as follows:

  1. The need to end extreme poverty and hunger on the planet

2.Encourage economic growth without upending planetary boundaries

  1. Education for the nations virile and teeming youths
  2. Realize through social-economic instruments equality among genders, human rights, and social inclusion of all citizens
  3. Develop systems that cater to the health and wellbeing of all.
  4. Develop better agricultural practices and systems that support the economic empowerment of rural peoples
  5. Design and build resilience into cities and homes
  6. Control and reduce climate change caused by human activities and encourage the clean production of renewable energy for all
  7. Protect the planets forests, waters, oceans and ensure proper management of the all-natural resource, including preservation of its diverse plant and animal life Biodiversity
  8. Develop and encourage systems that support governance and technologies for the implementing sustainable development practices

Addressing Challenges of Developing Countries in Executing Five Main concern for Sustainable Development Goals

They have been intense debates about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Much of these were about its non-specificity—did it address human development, political failures, or economic growth? The seventeen policy Agenda of the UN SDGs were thought out to address the weaknesses in the MDGs. They are from every good point strategized to address environmental degradation, poverty, and food security to be put succinctly as the focus areas of the SGDs Agenda.[xviii] According to Younglong Lu et al.,[xix] the SDGs require five crucial areas of implementation and participation before elements of the Agenda can produce expected outcomes. Taken into cognizance is that different communities or countries are faced with various challenges in varying degrees towards the implementation of the SDGs.

According to Lu et al., the priorities that have to be taken into account are building monitoring mechanisms, progress evaluators, developing metrics, improving infrastructure, regulating and verifying data. However, adopting these priorities has become a herculean task to implement in many developing nations due to differing national contexts. A finite discussion is given in the following paragraphs.

  1. Essentials for Establishing Monitoring Mechanisms

How do you understand and measure progress? To measure progress in any given endeavor, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms have to come to play. Several studies have shown that Least Developed Countries (LDCs) face the most challenges in adopting the SDGs, mainly due to finance, technology, and geography, to mention a few. To ascertain the level of compliance, not just for the LDCs—scientists and social scientists can come together to design a set of practical indices for tracking progress on each SDG.[xx]

For example, goal seven of the SDG speaks on access to sustainable energy for all. Nevertheless, how can this be achieved if the required indicators that show improvements in energy provision and improvements are not seen?[xxi] Considerations other than just economic growth must be incorporated, such as income disparity, carbon emissions, health quality, population growth rate[xxii] , and life expectancy.

Measurements can be taken from accessible methodologies, laying the foundation, or acting as benchmarks for the evaluation program. For example,  assessing the environmental impacts of a development project, initiating a cost-benefit analysis, and evaluating the value of natural assets are just a few methods of measuring compliance.[xxiii] Linguas that are not very clear should be utterly avoided, and those requiring further explanation need to be well-defined quantitatively so that the objectives can be quantifiable, comparable, and attainable. Scientific analyses of the effectiveness of different scenarios should inform the metrics.[xxiv]

  1. Measures to Evaluate Progress

The case for monitoring the SDGs was made in the preceding chapter. Therefore the next step required is to evaluate how much progress has been made. All stakeholders, which includes governments, civil societies, and industries, must necessarily decide which items of the Policy Agenda of the SDGs should be tracked and evaluated as means of understanding how much has been achieved. Should it be all of the tracers of the four dimensions of the SDGs or some of them? These are questions that require urgent answers to. Issues such as eutrophication of water can spell that chemical agents pollute the waterways; this is an environmental challenge.

Are people getting more jobs and having more children? This is the social dimension of evaluation, and is the economy growing and providing more jobs whereby poverty and health systems are improving? This is the economic dimension.[xxv]

Instituting monitoring and evaluation processes will provide quantifiable outcomes, permitting countries to meet the SDGs within the time structure. Developing economies are urged to design and implement national‐level planning and review mechanisms for the successful implementation of SDGs, including legislative actions that would support the adoption of the SDGs.[xxvi]

           Problems for Enhancing Infrastructure

There is the need and requirement for developing economies to collaborate and developed countries to build capacity in the areas of technology for monitoring the environment and novel ways of safe and sustainable agricultural practices, finance to enable infrastructural development, and public works to enhance the standard of living and improvements in the social status of citizens.[xxvii]

Many developing economies face the challenge of data provided for planning. When data is accessible, it is often not used for planning or, most times, proves insufficient, and insufficient information is the root cause of poor decision‐making. Finding the correct mapping data for planning from developing countries has become a task. For example, developing three-dimensional disaster monitoring and management coverage in emerging economies is demanding due to the lack of ground‐observation networks, high expenditures, and difficulty gaining access to mountainous areas.

Examining remote‐sensing data, satellite‐based surveillance technology, and expensive high‐resolution geospatial products is not realistic for developing countries; hence, these countries have to be contingent on external sources. According to Lu et al., there is a greater need and involvement of government investments towards land resource management and other resources land may hold.[xxviii]

  1. Tasks for Standardizing and Verifying Data

When countries or any entity scour, collate and store data, there is the need to verify if the data collected is accurate. It has been proved true as decision-making and several other processes to be undertaken depending on the data used. The quality and integrity of data used would also determine the quality or viability of outcomes from decisions made from it.[xxix] A shared platform for data collection should be developed where sharing data through an open‐source system nurtures partnerships that inspire transparency in data reporting. For this reason, governments should develop initiatives such as platforms and resources for data gathers and scientists who would manage these data and turn them into usable resources.[xxx]

Significant Areas at the Frontiers of Ecology and Energy

The planet is faced with several complex interactions—human, environmental and social. Because of these interactions and the complexities involved, it requires the attention of science and technology, which are elements or part of the solution to the demands of humanity plethoric economic development demands and challenges. One evidence is ripe to all: there is a humanitarian crisis in the present, and more so, humankind’s energy demands are on the rise astronomically.

Energy can be opined to be the opiate stimulant of the world economy and the key to ecosystem functioning. The vast amounts of activities to mine for energy and its use have an unprecedented impact on the planet. The Earth is facing an environmental crisis that included increasing temperatures on a global scale. Our energy demands, which have now reached a crisis level and other adverse impacts and externalities, are the significant challenges to address to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).[xxxi]

To attain the SDGs, there is a need to consider the social and environmental dimensions of the planet and not just focus only on economic growth, which invariably is upending the planet’s nine planetary boundaries.[xxxii] All concerned experts conclude an urgent need to consider the value of ecosystems in attaining the UN SDGs.[xxxiii]

 

NATURAL ACCOUNTING AND THE SDGs

Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires an understanding of the interdependencies and tradeoffs between the economy and environment. Natural capital accounting (NCA) can aid the design of integrated policies and the monitoring of the SDGs. The System of Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA), an international statistical standard, provides a methodology for compiling physical and monetary accounts for a range of resources, including minerals, water, energy, and timber, and linking these to information in the economy, in particular to GDP and policies for the distribution of benefits to different parts of society. The SEEA is enhanced through Experimental Ecosystem Accounts, which describe how to account for ecosystem assets and services both in monetary and physical terms — for example, the storm protection function of mangrove forests.[xxxiv]

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came to be after the UN general meeting in 2015—precisely, at the start of 2016. The SDGs was a policy Agenda designed to plug the gaps and build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a purpose as a novel way of global development strategy to end hunger and poverty most especially and (move) world nations and governments into a sustainable way of thinking and livelihood by 2030. Many experts understood one of the main instruments of achieving the SDGs to consider Natural Capital Accounting (NCAs).[xxxv]

The SDGs are a well-thought-out strategy that is hoped to eradicate environmental degradation and consider the carrying capacity of various ecosystems.[xxxvi] It is comprehensive in inclusiveness with objectives in poverty eradication to eradicate inequality to best use technologies and conservation and regeneration.[xxxvii] Whereas the MDGs had only one policy Agenda focused on the environment, MDG7. Simultaneously, the SDGs took into complete perspective the environment as much as it did for the economic and social dimensions.[xxxviii]

Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) and the SDGs are like-minded, having a shared purpose and philosophy with the SDGs providing the policy direction and framework. In contrast, NCA provides the required data needed to evaluate the depth of adoption of the SDGs.[xxxix] Both policy frameworks recognize that integrated policies provide a better understanding of the multi-sectoral exchanges and tradeoffs between the different dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental and social), and the distribution of benefits within society is fundamental. Because of this interaction, it is easier for policymakers to consider the impacts of policies on different areas.[xl]

For example, the System of Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA)[xli] was designed to meet the needs of providing an internationally recognized and reliable framework for accounting for natural capital—including definitions, classifications, accounting concepts, and methods—for accounting for natural capital.[xlii]

Table 1 below shows the interactions and interoperability of the SDGs with NCA and the SEEA framework.

Table 1: SDG 6 Agenda is to guarantee availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for all[xliii]

In overcoming the challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, studies have shown that natural capital accounting as a strategy can assist in various spaces to ease adoption in national SDG policy processes. Many countries face four main challenges in achieving the SDGs, which NCAs may provide vital information to overcome. These challenges relate to:

(a) the monitoring of status and direction in the SDG 17 indicators,

(b) identifying the connections—tradeoffs and synergies—between the SDGs,

(c) evaluating forecasts and actual achievements to see if  SDG policy or governance arrangements contribute to the SDGs as anticipated, and

(d) creating an institutional environment such that the SDGs can be achieved[xliv]

Natural capital accounts are cooperative for policy preparation and overcome mitigating factors (a) to (d) in the preceding paragraph. When NCAs are implemented, they can form an integral part of the foundational elements to fulfill 2030 SDGs goals. International current best practices do not presently take into account contributions of NCAs in SDG policies, for example, in considering asset accounts. There are, however, some exceptions to this omission; for instance, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Rwanda[xlv] have carried out studies using the “integrated economic-environmental modeling” (IEEM) framework to analyze policy alternatives.[xlvi]

SDGs pointers are indicators for reporting at the national and international platforms. These pointers assist governments to assemble according to their respective capacities towards policy enactment and adoption. The pointers for the SDGs include meters for reporting at the universal level and a range of national and thematic indicators that nations may gather based on capacity and depending on their policy priorities. For instance, the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators received a list for SDG 6 from various stakeholders, which can be directly evaluated using the SEEA-Water methodology as an instance in target 6.3 (see Figure 2), which related to the percentage of wastewater that undergoes treatment and is informed by the SEEA Water Physical Supply and Uses Tables (PSUT) and Emission Accounts.

Embracing the SEEA-Water methodology for international reporting on water-related SDG targets supports methodological reliability across diverse reporting points and global datasets.[xlvii]

 

Figure 2: Developing a standards-based indicator system for SDG 6 — clean water and sanitation[xlviii]

Environmental accounting as a Sustainable development tool

Environmental accounting (EA) is a system for indexing, organizing, managing, and delivering data and information on the environment via physical or monetary indicators. It is designed to make its use as an indispensable tool for implementing the sustainable development model. EA is now used in many European countries as a de facto instrument for ensuring natural systems preservation.

Conventional mechanisms of economic analysis do not enable political decision-makers to measure reliably the effectiveness of the environmental policies implemented or the impact of economic policies on the environment. However, EA affords policymakers the opportunities to conduct proper environmental monitoring with reliable information systems that provide a platform for political decisions.[xlix]

IN WHAT WAY, NATURAL CAPITAL ACCOUNTING CONTRIBUTES TO INTEGRATED POLICIES FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Today, the majority of countries across the world are facing a diverse range and an increasing magnitude of social, economic, environmental, and political challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, poor air quality, inadequate resource management, inequality and poverty, financial imbalances and health crises, among others, in order to effectively tackle these problems, fundamental societal and economic transformations are needed that require not only innovative thinking but also integrated policies.[l]

In today’s world, policies are ever-increasingly becoming interconnected. This poses a challenge to policymakers and governments who are continuously trying to improve performance economically in GDP and GNI. Current practices in governments are to look beyond GDP and consider human and social dimensions of policymaking—this complex policy context is being implemented through chief policy initiatives around the world, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—like “green treaties,” carbon neutrality targets, and circular economy and welfare economy initiatives.

To drive success in policymaking, a robust statistical structure is required to evaluate policy prioritization, implementation, and evaluation.

For proper monitoring and evaluation, the international statistical community developed an international statistical standard for natural capital accounting called the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).[li] It is a unified framework that displays the connection between the environment and the economy.

The SEEA can help uncover tradeoffs and synergies across different policy domains through its ability to unify evaluation data between the economy and the environment. Overall, the SEEA reveals society’s complex connection with nature and helps to identify which policies can be implemented to lower environmental pressures while managing the economy effectively. The SEEA, therefore, plays an essential role in governments’ desire to look far above GDP and towards an economy that is focused on the advancement of wellbeing and sustainability.

The implementation of the SEEA is reinforced by many national governments around the world, with Canada, Indonesia, European Union countries, and Uganda leading in the use of this methodology, including international organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, and OECD. Because of the support these countries and Intergovernmental Agencies (IGAs) have given to the SEEA, about a hundred countries in 2020 decided to aggregate SEEA accounts.[lii] The improved international acceptance of the SEEA leads to a high-quality, comparable, and established supply of natural capital accounts across many nations.[liii]

EVALUATING THE GLOBAL STATE OF  ECOSYSTEMS AND NATURAL ACCOUNTING

According to  Nahlik et al., in their publication of 2012 defined ecosystem services as:

a structure that includes the relationship among assumptions, concepts, and practices establishes an approach for accomplishing the stated objective or objectives pertaining to ecosystem services.[liv]

Any decision support framework must have within its workings an integrated conceptual scheme, measurement, and process concerns. Based on this basis, a decision framework should engage stakeholders and assist them in setting relative importance of policies and actions, providing the right foundations for measurement and what needs to be measured. It should have a consistent system with a theory that is verifiable. Lastly, it should help in providing the field for unanimity.[lv]

One of the famous and reliable measurement frameworks based on the comprehensive conceptual model is the System of National Accounts (SNA). It takes its leanings to develop data sets for understanding national economic production by studying macroeconomic indices, which study consumption patterns, imports and exports, and government expenditures. It is also an indicator of GDP. Despite GDP being an aggregate “wealth indicator,” the SNA is robust to handle this, developed from a rich set of detailed economic data used to analyze various issues.[lvi] The UN Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (UN FDES)[lvii] is also an excellent example of an effective evaluation tool used in addressing specific policy concerns of pollutants and ecosystem protection.[lviii]

SYSTEM OF ENVIRONMENTAL-ECONOMIC ACCOUNTING

Our rapid economic growth and development have improved our lives concerning standards of living. However, studies have shown that the decline in poverty is not widespread, but our urbanization and industrialization have led to several challenges significantly; we see this as climate change and environmental degradation, and decline in biodiversity and human wellbeing. Recent developments in ecology—its science and economics—have proved to be an eye-opener to several interested groups and those on “the fence.”[lix]

The United Nations and other interested groups (stakeholders) in 2014 published in an official capacity the  System of Environmental-Economic Accounting 2012: Central Framework (SEEA-CF), a multipurpose conceptual framework for the study of the exchanges between the environment and the economy.  The SEEA-CF framework provided an international platform with its totality definitions and concepts for Environmental-Economic Accounting (EEA). It was successful in its purpose because it provided a set of powerful tools for gathering details statistical data for monitoring and evaluation of  Sustainable Development indicators.

In 2017, the United Nations detailed technical recommendations in support of the SEEA system, which had research results on the development of EA from 2013  to 2015. This singular step was a positive assurance that environmental accounting systems were reliable and could be used as the basis for monitoring and evaluating SDGs’ level of implementation.[lx]

 

CONCLUSION

It is irrefutable that scientists, governments, planners, and concerned stakeholders should support the seventeen policy Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals. Their collective support provides the air for the validation of the intentions and achievable goals of the SDGs. It permits the impetus to integrate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms into policymaking to attain the SDGs and support human life.

Emerging economies will mainly need to carefully address the challenges of executing the SDGs to come to the right track to achieve sustainability. The peculiarity of this lacuna with developing countries is the challenges they have in accessing financial, technological, and human resource requirements to meet the SDGs’ demands.[lxi]

Several research findings referenced showed that NCA lacks several nations concerning SGD policies in national SDG policy processes. Agreed, the clear and organized setup of NCAs can benefit several other capital asset accounting procedures by supporting a systems-based approach and creating institutional conditions for more unified data compilation, analysis, and policymaking. However, several countries are not using this

a powerful tool, mainly countries from the emerging markets and Least developed Economies.

The beauty of NCAs is that they can easily be aligned with the goals synergistically set by the SDGs. The underlying strength of the NCAs is that its framework is not dependent on any single institutional philosophy—it is independent—but relies on organizations experienced at collecting data, compiling accounts, and analyzing information.[lxii]

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[i]Inna Makarenko and Alex Plastun, “The Role of Accounting in Sustainable Development,” Accounting and Financial Control 1, no. 2 (June 8, 2017): 4, accessed February 9, 2021, https://businessperspectives.org/journals/j-accounting-and-financial-control/issue-265/the-role-of-accounting-in-sustainable-development.

[ii]“Accounting for Ecosystem Services to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” n.d., accessed February 9, 2021, https://www.senseandsustainability.net/2015/12/09/accounting-for-ecosystem-services-to-achieve-the-sustainable-development-goals/.

[iii]Ibid.

[iv] “Enhancing the Role of Reporting in Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals: Integration of Environmental, Social and Governance Information into Company Reporting” (n.d.): 10.

[v]Albert V. Norström et al., “Three Necessary Conditions for Establishing Effective Sustainable Development Goals in the Anthropocene,” Ecology and Society 19, no. 3 (2014): 2–6, accessed February 9, 2021, http://www.jstor.org/stable/26269630.

[vi] “How Natural Capital Accounting Contributes to Integrated Policies for Sustainability | System of Environmental Economic Accounting,” 37, accessed April 19, 2021, https://seea.un.org/content/how-natural-capital-accounting-contributes-integrated-policies-sustainability.

[vii]“Putting Ecosystems into the SDGs | Water, Land and Ecosystems,” accessed April 10, 2021, https://wle.cgiar.org/news/putting-ecosystems-sdgs.

[viii]Ibid.

[ix]Ibid.

[x] Lorenza Campagnolo et al., Assessing SDGs: A New Methodology  to Measure Sustainability (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), 2015), JSTOR, accessed February 9, 2021, http://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep01205.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] “THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development,” accessed April 14, 2021, https://sdgs.un.org/goals.

[xiv] Jan Bebbington and Jeffrey Unerman, “Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: An Enabling Role for Accounting Research,” Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 31, no. 1 (January 1, 2018): 2–24, accessed April 12, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-05-2017-2929.

[xv] William Rosa, ed., “Goal 2. End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition, and Promote Sustainable Agriculture,” in A New Era in Global Health (New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, 2017), 2, accessed April 14, 2021, http://connect.springerpub.com/lookup/doi/10.1891/9780826190123.0013.

[xvi] https://plus.google.com/+UNESCO, “Sustainable Development,” UNESCO, last modified August 3, 2015, accessed April 14, 2021, https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-sustainable-development/what-is-esd/sd.

[xvii] Ten Priority Challenges of Sustainable Development, An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2014), 9–26, accessed April 12, 2021, https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep15862.7.

[xviii] Suriyanarayanan Sarvajayakesavalu, “Addressing Challenges of Developing Countries in Implementing Five Priorities for Sustainable Development Goals,” Ecosystem Health and Sustainability 1, no. 7 (September 1, 2015): 1–4, accessed April 16, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1890/EHS15-0028.1.

[xix] Yonglong Lu et al., “Policy: Five Priorities for the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Nature News 520, no. 7548 (April 23, 2015): 432, accessed April 17, 2021, http://www.nature.com/news/policy-five-priorities-for-the-un-sustainable-development-goals-1.17352.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] “Sustainable Energy for All Forum – 2014 – IIASA,” accessed April 17, 2021, https://iiasa.ac.at/web/home/research/researchPrograms/Energy/20140604-REN21.html.

[xxii] Adeyemi Opeoluwa, “The Impact Of Population Growth In West Africa: The Nigerian Outlook,” IRPJ = Intergovernmental Research and Policy Journal, accessed April 17, 2021, https://irpj.euclid.int/articles/the-impact-of-population-growth-in-west-africa-the-nigerian-outlook/.

[xxiii] Sarvajayakesavalu, “Addressing Challenges of Developing Countries in Implementing Five Priorities for Sustainable Development Goals.”

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] Lu et al., “Policy.”

[xxvi] Sarvajayakesavalu, “Addressing Challenges of Developing Countries in Implementing Five Priorities for Sustainable Development Goals.”

[xxvii] Lu et al., “Policy.”

[xxviii] Sarvajayakesavalu, “Addressing Challenges of Developing Countries in Implementing Five Priorities for Sustainable Development Goals.”

[xxix] Lu et al., “Policy.”

[xxx] Sarvajayakesavalu, “Addressing Challenges of Developing Countries in Implementing Five Priorities for Sustainable Development Goals.”

[xxxi] S. K. Chou et al., “Priority Areas at the Frontiers of Ecology and Energy,” Ecosystem Health and Sustainability 4, no. 10 (October 3, 2018): 243, accessed February 9, 2021, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20964129.2018.1538665.

[xxxii] Ibid., 245.

[xxxiii] “Putting Ecosystems into the SDGs | Water, Land and Ecosystems,” 1–5.

[xxxiv] Camille Bann, Natural Capital Accounting and the Sustainable Development Goals, Policy Briefing (Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES), 2016), 1, accessed February 9, 2021, www.wavespartnership.org.

[xxxv] Lu et al., “Policy.”

[xxxvi] Bann, Natural Capital Accounting and the Sustainable Development Goals, 2.

[xxxvii] “Putting Ecosystems into the SDGs | Water, Land and Ecosystems.”

[xxxviii] “7 Reasons the SDGs Will Be Better than the MDGs,” The Guardian, last modified September 26, 2015, accessed April 18, 2021, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/26/7-reasons-sdgs-will-be-better-than-the-mdgs.

[xxxix] “Making the Link between the SDGs and Natural Capital Accounting: Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES),” accessed February 9, 2021, /en/making-link-between-sdgs-and-natural-capital-accounting.

[xl] Bann, Natural Capital Accounting and the Sustainable Development Goals, 3.

[xli] “System of Environmental Economic Accounting |,” accessed April 18, 2021, https://seea.un.org/.

[xlii] Bann, Natural Capital Accounting and the Sustainable Development Goals, 3.

[xliii] Ibid., 4.

[xliv] Arjan Ruijs, Van der Martijn Heide, and Van den Jolanda Berg, “Natural Capital Accounting for the  Sustainable Development Goals: Current and Potential Uses and Steps Forward,” PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency The Hague, no. 3010 (2018): 8, www.pbl.nl/en.

[xlv] “Making the Link between the SDGs and Natural Capital Accounting,” International Institute for Environment and Development, last modified January 3, 2018, accessed April 19, 2021, https://www.iied.org/making-link-between-sdgs-natural-capital-accounting.

[xlvi] Ruijs, Heide, and Berg, “Natural Capital Accounting for the  Sustainable Development Goals: Current and Potential Uses and Steps Forward,” 9.

[xlvii] Bann, Natural Capital Accounting and the Sustainable Development Goals, 7.

[xlviii] Ibid.

[xlix] “Environmental Accounting as a Sustainable Development Tool,” accessed February 9, 2021, https://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/X2H-Xref-ViewHTML.asp?FileID=10431&lang=EN.

[l] “How Natural Capital Accounting Contributes to Integrated Policies for Sustainability | System of Environmental Economic Accounting,” 12.

[li] “System of Environmental Economic Accounting |.”

[lii] “UNSD — United Nations Statistical Commission,” accessed April 19, 2021, https://unstats.un.org/unsd/statcom.

[liii] “How Natural Capital Accounting Contributes to Integrated Policies for Sustainability | System of Environmental Economic Accounting,” 6–7.

[liv] Amanda Nahlik et al., “Where Is the Consensus? A Proposed Foundation for Moving Ecosystem Service Concepts into Practice,” Ecological Economics 77 (May 1, 2012): 27–35.

[lv] Michael Bordt and Marc Saner, “A Critical Review of Ecosystem Accounting and Services Frameworks,” One Ecosystem 3 (October 19, 2018): 1, accessed February 9, 2021, https://oneecosystem.pensoft.net/article/29306/.

[lvi] Ibid., 2.

[lvii] “UNSD — Environment Statistics,” accessed April 20, 2021, https://unstats.un.org/unsd/envstats/fdes.cshtml.

[lviii] Bordt and Saner, “A Critical Review of Ecosystem Accounting and Services Frameworks,” 3.

[lix] “CEDRA Climate Change and Environmental Degradation Risk and Adaptation Assessment | PreventionWeb.Net,” accessed April 20, 2021, https://www.preventionweb.net/publications/view/11964.

[lx] Guidelines for the Pilot of Natural Capital Accounting and Valutation of Ecosystems Services Project (Draft) (Guangxi Zhuang: Statistical Bureau of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomoue Region of China, January 2019), 1, accessed April 19, 2021, https://seea.un.org/sites/seea.un.org.

[lxi] Sarvajayakesavalu, “Addressing Challenges of Developing Countries in Implementing Five Priorities for Sustainable Development Goals.”

[lxii] Ruijs, Heide, and Berg, “Natural Capital Accounting for the  Sustainable Development Goals: Current and Potential Uses and Steps Forward,” 10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Publisher information: The Intergovernmental Research and Policy Journal (IRPJ) is a unique interdisciplinary peer-reviewed and open access Journal. It operates under the authority of the only global and treaty-based intergovernmental university in the world (EUCLID), with other intergovernmental organizations in mind. Currently, there are more than 17,000 universities globally, but less than 15 are multilateral institutions, EUCLID, as IRPJ’s sponsor, is the only global and multi-disciplinary UN-registered treaty-based institution.

 

IRPJ authors can be assured that their research will be widely visible on account of the trusted Internet visibility of its “.int” domain which virtually guarantees first page results on matching keywords (.int domains are only assigned by IANA to vetted treaty-based organizations and are recognized as trusted authorities by search engines). In addition to its “.int” domain, IRPJ is published under an approved ISSN for intergovernmental organizations (“international publisher”) status (also used by United Nations, World Bank, European Space Agency, etc.).

 

IRPJ offers:

  1. United Nations Treaty reference on your published article (PDF).
  2. “Efficiency” driven and “author-focused” workflow
  3. Operates the very novel author-centric metric of “Journal Efficiency Factor”
  4. Minimal processing fee with the possibility of waiver
  5. Dedicated editors to work with graduate and doctoral students
  6. Continuous publication i.e., publication of articles immediately upon acceptance
  7. The expected time frame from submission to publication is up to 40 calendar days
  8. Broad thematic categories
  9. Every published article will receive a DOI from Crossref and is archived by CLOCKSS.

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