OCEANS ACCOUNTING WORKING GROUP OF THE AFRICA NATURAL CAPITAL ACCOUNTING COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
WELCOME TO THE WEB PAGE OF THE OCEANS ACCOUNTING WORKING GROUP OF THE AFRICA NATURAL CAPITAL ACCOUNTING COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
This web page is a dedicated Ocean Accounting Work Group page open to Working Group members. It will host all information as to the Working Group activities, dialogue (through the chat-box), sharing of new and pertinent publications and articles, experiences and opportunities. The primary aim of the Working Group is to advance knowledge, experience and dialogue of Ocean Accounts in the Community of Practice.
Although Ocean Accounts go beyond Natural Capital Accounting, Ocean Accounting incorporates important aspects of natural capital assets and flows in the ocean environment along with impact flows from ocean resource use sectors and the inclusivity of resource use access. NCA consequently forms an integral aspect of the Ocean Accounting processes.
WHAT ARE OCEAN ACCOUNTS?
Ocean accounts are an exciting, novel approach to consistent and standardised integration of ocean resource-use data (from the environmental, social and economic domains) into structures that are similar to national accounts maintained by National Statistical Offices or Finance Ministries. They provide the means to account for growth, sustainability and inclusivity of ocean economies in line with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and allow the monitoring of ocean resource-use information in three important areas, namely ocean wealth (including in “non-produced” ecosystem assets) that are critical for the assessments of sustainability; ocean-related income and welfare across demographic groups, that provide information on inclusivity; and ocean-based economic production that is important in strategic economic planning.
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS WORKING GROUP AND WORKING GROUP ENGAGEMENT?
This Working Group of the Africa NCA Community of Practice will work closely with the Global Oceans Accounts Partnership (https://www.oceanaccounts.org) – African Community of Practice and draw on experiences in ocean accounts carried out under the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Member Nations under this Global Partnership, as well as with other regional ocean accounting communities of practice (such as the Western Indian ocean Governance Exchange network (WIOGEN – https://wiogen.org/wiogen-themes/oceans-accounts/)). Science diplomacy and communication and science to policy transition form an integral aspect of this Working Group. Given the novel nature of the ocean accounting processes, these established Communities of Practice have strong academic interests.
HOW ARE OCEAN ACCOUNTS STRUCTURED?
Ocean Accounting draws on accepted spatial SEEA-Experimental Ecosystem Accounting frameworks (including assessments of ecosystem asset condition and extents, and valuation of ecosystem service assets and flows to economies), the SEEA-Central Framework (including both the non-produced 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 inclusivity in terms of ocean use benefits and costs and ocean governance as novel accounting components in order to fully address sustainability and inclusivity aspects of “blue economy” approaches to ocean resource uses and their role in informed governance development. Although not all of these oceans accounts framework components need to be addressed simultaneously, it is critical that they are addressed in a consistent manner.
WHY ARE OCEAN ACCOUNTS IMPORTANT?
Globally ocean economies are being advanced at international, regional, national and local levels. Thirty-eight of Africa’s 54 sovereign states are coastal, and many of Africa’s coastal countries are increasingly turning to their oceans to foster economic growth and ocean resource security, leading to a marked expansion of their ocean economies. Maritime zones under Africa’s jurisdiction extend to some 13 million square kilometres (of which approximately 6.5 million square kilometres are relatively accessible continental shelf waters that are critical to ocean resource–use). Acceleration of ocean-resource uses requires the development of ocean governance to ensure adequate sustainability and inclusivity of ocean-use programmes. Not only are human uses of the ocean’s resources acceleration (both as a result of such ocean systems changes and new technologies extending production boundaries in the ocean realm), but oceans are also changing due to global challenges and changes in earth systems. Furthermore new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are also changing the way in which ocean sciences and monitoring are conducted, and ocean data are often disconnected, unstandardized, and only partially represented in national accounting structures. Integration of resultant large volumes of novel data from across changing ocean environmental, social and economic domains is required within consistent and standardised frameworks to boost the data to information value chain in ocean governance and policy development. Current estimations of the contributions of ocean economic sectors to national accounts (as contribution to GDP) often do not capture the full value of oceans (they make no account for non-market benefits, changes in the natural capital assets or readily identify the beneficiaries of ocean resource uses). Ocean accounts provide standardised and consistent frameworks that allow the integration of such social, economic and environmental data to develop information that goes beyond Gross Domestic Product, to measure progress towards growth, sustainability and inclusivity of the ocean economy
Importantly ocean accounts allow for monitoring of three critical trends in ocean resource-use, namely a) changes in ocean wealth, including of “non-produced” ecosystem assets, b) ocean-related income and welfare for different groups of people and c) ocean-based economic production. They provide a number of advantages in the development of knowledge bases for informed ocean governance and policy cycle processes including:
a) the boosting of the power of data through consistency and structure,
b) the integration of diverse data into information products that decision-makers can readily understand,
c) the provision of indicators that strengthen national statistical systems and identify the attainment of national commitments,
d) measures of ocean sustainability, access and inclusiveness, and
e) ongoing review of policy effectiveness for use in adaptive management processes within policy cycles.
Ocean accounts therefore are have considerable value in their provision of common reference points to address diverse policy questions, related to strategic ocean economy development, spatial planning and protection and international reporting.
WHAT ARE THE AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THIS 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 inclusivity 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 practitioners, 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 account 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 inclusivity 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 future case studies where expanded oceans accounts frameworks may be applied.
HOW WILL THE WORKING GROUP OPERATE?
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 and early 2021. Please note that in-person meetings of Working Groups will need to be funded by institutions involved in those Working Groups as there is no dedicated funding available to readily support in-person meetings of Working Groups.
OCEAN ACCOUNTS RESOURCES
Further information can be obtained from Prof Ken Findlay, CPUT Research Chair: Ocean Economy; Cape Peninsula University of Technology. [email: firstname.lastname@example.org]