UN HQ, New York
24-26 June 2015
How do we evaluate the environment in economic terms? How can we compare the state of the oceans with the state of industry? Up to this point, indicators for the economy and the environment have never been measured in comparable ways, limiting our understanding and decision making ability.
As we confront the challenges of 21st century, we need a more inclusive point of view that standardizes diverse data. Oceans and industry have to be made apples and apples. Only then can we build a more successful and sustainable future. Members of the United Nations recognize that future world development must be evaluated from a more comprehensive perspective. Our decisions must consider the environment, society and the economy as pieces of a larger picture. Analysts need a better way to compare data and understand the complex relationships that impact global progress, both within and across national borders.
The United Nations created the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) to provide a modern framework for data collection, comparison and reporting. Rather than focusing on one domain, the SEEA aggregates and organizes economic, environmental and social information into a unified framework.
Rather than providing a headline indicator, the SEEA is designed to address a wide range of complex questions. By integrating worlddata into a coherent model, the SEEA brings our future into greater focus.
The SEEA is a catalyst for modernizing global statistics. For the first time, agencies and departments can share, compare and compile a common set of data with universally accepted concepts, terms and definitions. This gives governments, professionals and civil society a more complete picture for planning and policy decisions. The SEEA informs more nuanced and holistic decisions, promoting sustainable development at a micro and macro level. Critically, the SEEA adapts to decisionmakers’ specific needs.
The framework is designed to be applicable across all countries, regardless of their level of economic development and structure, or the composition of their environment. The SEEA empowers an enhanced view no matter a country’s policies, data sources or statistical capabilities. Our sustainable development challenges are too vast and far-reaching to be analyzed with segregated data. From seas to silicon, micro-chips to marine life, literacy to logging, our actions and their impacts are increasingly interconnected. To understand the intersection of the environment, economy and society, we need a sharper view and a more powerful toolkit.
The SEEA makes isolated data comparable, and complex problems coherent. By viewing our world with greater context and precision, we can advance a better future.