The Oceans Accounting Working Group under the Africa Natural Capital Accounting Community of Practice and the Global Oceans Accounts Partnership will run from August 2020 to December 2020, and is open to members of the community of practice.
African coastal countries are increasingly turning to their oceans to foster economic growth and ocean resource security. Acceleration of ocean-resource uses requires careful monitoring to ensure the sustainability and inclusiveness of ocean use programmes. Yet, oceans are changing due to global challenges and changes in earth systems; human use of the ocean’s resources are changing both as a result of such ocean systems changes and new technologies extending production boundaries in the ocean realm in the expansions of oceans economies across the globe. Such new technologies are also changing the manner in which ocean sciences and ocean data collections are accomplished. The integration of large volumes of novel data from across changing environmental, social and economic domains within consistent and standardised frameworks is required to boost their value in ocean governance and policy development.
Current contributions of ocean economic sectors to national accounts do not capture the full value of oceans, in that they make no account for non-market benefits, nor any changes in the natural capital assets on which the sectors are based. They also do not readily identify the beneficiaries of ocean resource uses. To address these gaps, the Global Oceans Accounts Partnership (www.oceanaccounts.org) - Ocean Accounts Framework adapts currently accepted international statistical standards to provide a holistic standards framework that is consistent and comparable across time and space. The Working Group will focus on the structure of Ocean Accounts Framework and data availability in Africa in relation to spatial SEEA-Experimental Ecosystem Accounting frameworks (assessments of ecosystem asset condition and extents, valuation of ecosystem service assets and flows to economies), the SEEA-Central Framework (including both natural capital flows to economic sectors and impact flows from sectors to the environment) as well as ocean satellite accounts within a National Accounts framework. The Ocean Accounts Framework also introduces guidance on accounting of ocean risk, access and inclusiveness in terms of ocean use benefits and costs and ocean governance as novel components in order to fully address sustainability and inclusiveness aspects of “blue economy” approaches to ocean resource uses and the governance thereof. Importantly, segues of the component ocean accounts allow the monitoring of changes in ocean wealth (including in “non-produced” ecosystem assets); ocean-related income and welfare across demographic groups; and ocean-based economic production.
Aims of the Oceans Accounting Working Group:
The Oceans Accounts Working Group primarily aims to assess and discuss how information on oceans and ocean resource-uses is utilized in the advancement of ocean governance in African coastal countries. Particular accent is placed on the sustainability and inclusiveness of ocean goods and service benefits, impacts to ocean assets arising from production or consumption of ocean goods and services and the estimation of contribution of oceans to the welfare of coastal nations, rather than ocean contribution to GDP metrics alone. Given the preliminary nature of the OA framework, the Working Group is targeted towards ocean resource use experts, particularly those from academia, with an interest in advancing ocean accounts. However, the Working Group is open to all African Natural Capital Accounts Community of Practice members with an interest in developing and advancing ocean accounts and their associated outputs that can inform ocean resource-use policy.
The outputs of this Working Group are envisaged as 
a) an assessment of the current use of natural capital asset and flow metrics in ocean resource use valuation in Africa, with particular reference to sustainability and inclusiveness of access to ocean resources;
b) an advancement of the understanding and resultant use of ocean accounts in ocean policy and governance formulation in African coastal environments;
c) contextualization of ocean accounts frameworks for African ocean governance, with particular reference to data availability, relevance and applicability to ocean accounts frameworks;
d) potential and past case studies where existing accounts have been applied in the ocean space in Africa (through for example experimental ecosystem accounts; ocean satellite accounts; or ocean resource use environmental economic accounts). Building on these is the identification of case studies where expanded oceans accounts frameworks may be applied.
Given the novel nature of ocean accounts across the world, we envisage considerable flexibility in the manner in which outputs of the Working Group will be reported. However, we wish to identify academic output (as peer reviewed publications of conference presentations) as particularly important. We envisage science diplomacy and communication as an integral aspect of this Working Group. The deliberations of the Working Group will for most part be carried out in webinar, virtual environments as a series of monthly deliberations to share information, advice and experiences in the oceans accounts space in the second half of 2020.
For further information please contact:
Prof Ken Findlay, CPUT Research Chair: Oceans Economies, Centre for Sustainable Oceans, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa (email: findlayk@cput.ac.za).