Workshop on Earth Observation for Ecosystem Accounting (EO4EA 2022)

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Organisation: ESA

The 2022 Workshop on Earth Observation for Ecosystem Accounting (EO4EA 2022) is organized by the European Space Agency in collaboration with the Environmental-Economic Account section of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the Earth Observations for Ecosystem Accounting initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO EO4EA).

Background

The System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) provides an internationally agreed statistical framework to measure the environment and its relationship with the economy. The SEEA brings together economic and environmental information using agreed concepts, definitions, classifications, accounting rules to produce internationally comparable statistics that measure the contribution of the environment to the economy and the impact of the economy on the environment.

In March 2021, the United Nations Statistical Commission adopted the SEEA Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA) as a new international statistical standard to account for ecosystem assets, ecosystem services and their links to the economy. Further in March 2022, the UN Statistical Commission adopted the implementation strategy for the SEEA EA which stresses the importance of scaling up the implementation in countries using earth observation in combination with national data. This new statistical framework brings a paradigm shift in making explicit the contribution and value of ecosystems to our wellbeing and the appreciation and valuation of natural resources, allowing countries worldwide to use a common set of rules and methods to track changes in ecosystem stocks (e.g. ecosystem extent and condition) and flows of ecosystem services, and to link ecosystem information to economic and other human activities. The SEEA Ecosystem Accounting, which is applicable to all terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, provides a new measurement framework underpinning the development of monitoring frameworks of several ecosystem-related indicators from international agreements,including the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

In Europe, the European Green Deal and the newly adopted EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 recognise the value of ecosystem accounting in the development of a comprehensive Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) in the Europe Union. The European Commission, under the coordination of DG ESTAT, is currently working on a new regulation on ecosystem accounting, which will amend the EU Regulation No 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts.

Ecosystem Accounts are inherently spatial accounts, with the implication that they strongly depend on the availability of spatially explicit datasets, including Earth Observations. EO is widely recognized as a major source of information to monitor the extent and condition of ecosystems and services provided. The advent of dense EO data streams at appropriate scales combined with the emergence of digital technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for countries to monitor the extent and condition of their ecosystems, determine ecosystem services and to use this information in compiling ecosystem accounts. The EO community has joined effort under the GEO EO4EA initiative to leverage the power of Earth Observations in ecosystem accounting.

Objectives

The objective of the 2022 Workshop on Earth Observation for Ecosystem Accounting is to bring together experts in Earth Observation and experts in Ecosystem Accounting to jointly discuss the key challenges that need to be addressed in order to use Earth Observation in compiling national ecosystem accounts to support national policies. 

The Workshop will introduce the SEEA Ecosystem Accounting framework to the EO community, present on-going efforts to harness the potential of Earth Observations in ecosystem accounting, showcase, through open sessions, practical examples of EO applications for Ecosystem Accounting, and review the main challenges lying ahead for an effective use of Earth Observation in compiling national ecosystem accounts.

The workshop will address the use of Earth Observation for ecosystem accounts in all realms, from terrestrial, freshwater, coastal to marine ecosystems.

The objective of the workshop is to reinforce the importance to join efforts to provide robust and cost-effective EO solutions that help countries develop and compile their ecosystem accounts.