Ecosystem Accounting offers a robust framework for quantifying and valuing ecosystem extent, condition, and services, enabling the identification of ecological degradation and the evaluation of economic activities’ risks and dependencies on the environment. The OSPAR Convention, committed to safeguarding the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, has embraced the accounting for natural capital and ecosystem services, with the SEEA EA providing the international standard.
This research paves the way for a comprehensive understanding of the OSPAR region’s natural capital and ecosystem services. The study entailed the identification of open-access data, the production of accounts for selected ecosystems, valuation of their services and asset value, and the revelation of crucial challenges and invaluable lessons.
The ecosystem services included in the analyses were fish provisioning, carbon sequestration, and outdoor recreation across OSPAR contracting parties’ coastal and marine environments. This exercise shed light on the need to overcome challenges including the lack of fitting data at the regional level and the imperative for spatially explicit linkages and harmonization to expand ecosystem accounting. It also offers valuable recommendations, including a shift towards ecosystem-type-based data collection, harmonization of data among countries, and the establishment of systematic data collection practices to facilitate data sharing and standardization.
It is key to emphasize that this work represents an initial step towards progressing ecosystem accounting practices not only in the OSPAR region but can serve as overall guidance for other regions in first steps regional ecosystem accounting, and it shows that, even with limited data and incomplete time-series, accounts can be compiled.
As the world faces unprecedented environmental challenges, understanding and measuring our marine ecosystems and how they change are of paramount importance. This research sets the stage for transformative actions towards sustainable development and underscores the critical need for further advancements in regional ecosystem accounting.
Alarcon Blazquez MG, van der Veeren R, Gacutan J, James PAS (2023) Compiling preliminary SEEA Ecosystem Accounts for the OSPAR regional sea: experimental findings and lessons learned. One Ecosystem 8: e108030. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.8.e108030
One million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, many within decades, admits the global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on the eve of the adoption of its boldest plan ever, the New Global Agreement to Safeguard Nature.
Europe is a major player in the political response to this global crisis mobilised through its own Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. In recognition of its global responsibilities, the EU has taken bold steps towards global leadership in setting policies and commitments.
The recently adopted by the CBD Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) provides the basis for the instruments for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and for equitable sharing of their benefits, including the genetic resources.
About the projects
The new Horizon Europe-funded projects CO-OP4CBD (abbreviation for Co-operation for the Convention on Biological Diversity) and BioAgora (or Bio Knowledge Agora) unite experts from renowned European organisations to enhance the coordination and strengthen the EU support for the implementation of the Convention.
Both projects will make more effective use of existing networks of experts with the aim to transform the EU policy-making process by supplying decision-makers with access to top European scientific expertise on biodiversity and social transformation.
CO-OP4CBD kicked-off in December 2022 and will be running until 2026 with the grant of EUR 4 million, provided by the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme.
Experts will provide advice to the European Commission, Member States and associated countries’ delegations of negotiators and technical experts.
The consortium of CO-OP4CBD comprises 9 universities and research centers from across Europe. Together, they bring together experts from various backgrounds with extensive experience in EU projects in the field of biodiversity.
BioAgora was launched in July 2022 and is a five-year project with nearly EUR 12 million granted from the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme.
The KCBD, the European Commission’s initiative on better knowledge management for policy-making on biodiversity, plays a central role in the EU biodiversity policy landscape, and therefore BioAgora will support orchestrating a harmonious dialogue among scientists, other knowledge holders and policy actors in the biodiversity policy arena.
The project partners believe that science, policy, and society need to work closer together, if they wish to enable the sustainability transformation in Europe.
A key part of this transformation will depend on a stronger role of knowledge, whether from science or practitioner experience in decision-making and implementation of decisions on the ground. BioAgora aims to facilitate this interaction.