Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport,
Youth and Environment
GR-C(2004)18 18 November 2004
“Environmental accounting” as a sustainable development tool ─
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1653 (2004)
Item to be considered by the GR-C at its meeting on 25 November 2004
Recommendation 1653 (2004) on “Environmental accounting” as a sustainable development tool was adopted by the Standing Committee acting on behalf of the Assembly on 2 March 2004. The Deputies considered it at their 876th meeting (17 March 2004, item 3.1), agreed to transmit it to their governments, as well as to the STRA-CO1 and the CO-DBP2 for information and possible comments by 30 June 2004, and invited the GR-C3 to prepare a draft reply for adoption at one of their forthcoming meetings. The STRACO's Bureau adopted its comments, at its tenth meeting held in Strasbourg on 14 May 2004. The present draft reply takes them into account.
About the Recommendation
Conventional tools for economic analysis do not reliably ascertain the effectiveness of the environmental policies or their impact on the environment. In 1992, the UN's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro approved the action plan Agenda 21 on sustainable development. It introduced the concept of “environmental accounting” as a tool for implementing coherent policies in this area. It is a system that can be used to list, organise, manage and supply data and information on the environment in physical and monetary units. Environmental accounting has been widely advocated by various institutions and international organisations. The Assembly underlines the need for all levels of government to adopt it. This would lead to greater accountability of decision-makers, regular environmental monitoring and proper use of environmental data at decision-making level.
The Assembly, therefore, recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. prepares a recommendation to member states on the introduction of environmental accounting at national, regional and local level;
ii. elaborates a set of European standards incorporating the experience of different European countries in the environmental accounting field;
iii. calls forthwith on member states to systematically include in their economic and social programmes satisfactory assessment of the sustainability of development, drawing on available databases, statistics and environmental indicators.
“1. The Committee of Ministers has considered Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1653 (2004) on “Environmental accounting” as a sustainable development tool and welcomes the concern of the Parliamentary Assembly for environmental accounting as a sustainable development tool of governance. The Committee recalls that the overall objective of the Kyiv biodiversity resolution, as agreed to by the European Ministers of Environment and Heads of Delegations of the States participating in the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy - PEBLDS process, is to halt the loss of biodiversity at all levels by the year 2010.
2. The Committee of Ministers considers of paramount importance the adoption of environmental indicators and monitoring systems as a basis for policy decisions. In this context, it recalls that the specific objective of target 8 on biodiversity monitoring and indicators in the Kyiv resolution on biodiversity is that: “by 2008, a coherent European programme on biodiversity monitoring and reporting, facilitated by the European Biodiversity Monitoring and Indicator Framework, will be operational in the pan-European region, in support of nature and biodiversity policies, including by 2006, an agreed core set of biodiversity indicators developed with the active participation of the relevant stakeholders”.
3. The Committee of Ministers encourages the adoption of an environmental accounting system at all appropriate levels of government, which would permit accountability of decision-makers committed to sustainable development goals, fostering regular environmental monitoring and the integration of environmental concerns into sectoral policies.
4. The Committee of Ministers also considers that the priority areas for the development of environmental accounting in Europe should be those of immediate policy concern, including specifically habitat and species accounts, and should not just be restricted to those areas where data is currently readily available.
5. Moreover, it believes in the importance of diffusing the concept of environmental accounting among the European national and where appropriate regional authorities, whilst recognising the limitations of the data available to local authorities.
6. The Committee of Ministers considers that the development of environmental accounting in Europe should build upon the methodologies and standards set out in the UN handbook on Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA 2003), and the standards and guidance developed by Eurostat.
7. Finally, the Committee of Ministers believes that the preparation of a draft Recommendation on the introduction of environmental accounting at national, regional and local level, as well as the development of a European standard approach for environmental accounting by the Council of Europe, may cause overlapping with the work done by the European Environmental Agency on the environment. The Agency is working
towards a practical implementation plan and guidelines for a set of biodiversity indicators and monitoring methods at European level. The aim is to help managers and decision-makers to protect biodiversity and meet the requirements of the various global, pan-European and European Union agreements and targets. The Committee of Ministers encourages member States of the Council of Europe to collaborate with the Agency in the pursuit of this aim."