Carl Obst - UN SEEA - UNAA Corporate Water Valuation Seminar Presentation 29.04.2013


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Carl Obst, Editor, UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) - Presentation at the United Nations Association of Australia (Victorian Division) Corporate Sustainability Leadership Seminar ‘Corporate Water Valuation: Accounting for Risks and Impacts, Valuing Ecosystem Services’ held on Monday 29 April 2013, in partnership with National Australia Bank

Held in support of the International Year of Water Cooperation, seminar addressed some of the challenges and opportunities associated with corporate water valuation, as well as local actions and global tools and initiatives in this area. It highlighted some examples of what Australian businesses are doing, alongside government and NGOs, to measure and manage their risks, impacts and dependencies on water.

Guest Speakers & Panelists included:
• Rosemary Bissett, Head of Sustainability, Governance & Risk, Enterprise Risk, National Australia Bank
• Matt Kendall, General Manager, Planning and Evaluation Group, National Water Commission
• Carl Obst, Editor, UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA)
• Jean-Michel Seillier, Regional Manager Victoria, Veolia Water
• Gioia Small, Regional Manager Sustainability and Vintrepreneur, Treasury Wine Estates
• Michael Spencer, Secretary, Water Stewardship Australia and Fellow, Department of Business, Law and Taxation, Monash University

• Rob Gell, Environmental Entrepreneur, Chairman of UNESCO Western Port Biosphere, and Chair of Wildlife Victoria

More information available at:

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Carl Obst - UN SEEA - UNAA Corporate Water Valuation Seminar Presentation 29.04.2013

  1. 1. SEEA: THE INTERNATIONALSTANDARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL-ECONOMIC ACCOUNTINGUPDATE ON PROGRESS AND THETREATMENT OF WATERCarl ObstEditor, UN System of Environmental-EconomicAccounting (SEEA)29 April, 2013UNAA Seminar on Water ValuationMelbourne, Australia
  2. 2. SEEA IN A NUTSHELL SEEA Central Framework reflectinginternational statistical standards approved inFebruary 2012 Accounting approach Measures stocks and flows in integrated manner Aligned with System of National Accounts Concepts applicable at national and sub-nationallevels Broad and inclusive approach using both physicaland monetary data
  3. 3. COVERAGE OF THE SEEA CENTRALFRAMEWORK Natural resource accounting Stocks, natural growth, extraction and depletion Physical flow accounting Energy, water, emissions, waste Accounting for environmental activities Environmental protection, Production of environmental goodsand services, Environmental taxes and subsidies Land accounting Changes in land use and land cover
  4. 4. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND FUTUREPLANS New guidelines: SEEA Experimental EcosystemAccounting Potential uses: SEEA Applications & Extensions Global SEEA Implementation program Co-ordination of an ecosystem accountingresearch agenda
  5. 5. SEEA’S GROWING CONNECTIONS Corporate accounting and reporting PUMA, The B Team, TEEB for Business, GIST Accounting and reporting standards (e.g. IIRC, GRI) Financial markets & risk analysis, UNEP-FI & NCD Academic community Economists, Physical scientists, Geo-spatial community IPBES, CBD, IPCC, Ecosystem Services Partnership, ESPA International sustainable development initiatives Including development of Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) and the post 2015 agenda + OECD, UNEP, WorldBank (incl WAVES & Genuine saving), GGKP, GGGI, … NGOs – WWF, Conservation International, NatureConservancy, World Resources Institute, … Politicians : GLOBE network National initiatives
  6. 6. SEEA: WHERE IS “WATER” RECORDED? Production account (GDP, value added) Follow abstraction, distribution and treatment acrosseconomy from all water sources Flows of water and associated economic activity Monetary terms only actual payments to other units
  7. 7. RECORDING WATER (CONT) Income accounts (saving) Annual payments for water rights (akin to royalties) Capital accounts Water infrastructure (dams, pipes, etc) Long term purchase of water rights
  8. 8. RECORDING WATER (CONT) Balance sheets Stocks and changes in stocks of water resources
  9. 9. AN ECOSYSTEM ACCOUNTING APPROACH Define relevant ecosystem flows and price themto obtain value of water: possible flows/services Abstraction (incl for hydropower) Water purification / flood protection Habitat and breeding grounds Cultural services: fishing, tourism, scenic views Transportation related services Difficulty of separating flows/services relevant towater from other parts of ecosystem Possible way forward is to focus on changes inecosystem condition and relevant dependencies Valuation of ecosystem degradation
  10. 10. FINAL THOUGHTS Single numbers tend not to aid decision making Challenge is to determine the right questions andstructure relevant information For system “assets” knowing the relevant flows isinsufficient, assessing the change in stock and itscondition is also needed.