Mapping and Assessment for Integrated Ecosystem Accounting (MAIA)
Natural capital includes both mineral ores and oil and gas (non-renewables) and renewable resources derived from ecosystems. Ecosystems provide many different services to people: they supply us with food and materials, they regulate our water cycles and soils, and they provide us with opportunities for tourism, recreation and reflection. Whereas methods to account for non-renewable resources are well established, the development and application of accounting systems for ecosystems and the services they provide to people is more recent. These systems need to consider the many different types of benefits we derive from ecosystems, the dynamic nature of ecosystems, and their regenerative capacity.
In the last 10 years, an ecosystem accounting methodology has been developed, officially termed System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) – Ecosystem Accounting, coordinated by the United Nations Statistical Commission and involving a wide range of national accountants, ecologists, economists, spatial modellers and statisticians. Implementation of this system allows the systematic monitoring of ecosystems, and understanding the economic impacts of the still ongoing degradation of ecosystems and the benefits of ecosystem rehabilitation. The SEEA is connected to economic indicators as measured with the National Accounts (such as GDP), and allows for a better analysis of trade-offs and synergies between economic development and ecosystem conservation.
MAIA (Mapping and Assessment for Integrated ecosystem Accounting) aims to promote the mainstreaming of natural capital accounting in EU Member States and Norway. In MAIA, we use the United Nations System of Environmental Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA) as the methodological basis for natural capital accounting (NCA). The project is being implemented in 11 countries, with 20 partners.