Doc. 10402

17 January 2005

"Environmental accounting" as a sustainable development tool

Recommendation 1653 (2004)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 911th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (12 January 2005)

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 Resolution on biodiversity, 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 No. 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 United Nations 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 Environment 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.