Several countries in Asia and the Pacific had been active in producing SEEA accounts before 2015. Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines have been engaged in environmental-economic accounting from the beginning; China and Vietnam had been producing prototype accounts. With the advent of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the need for coherent, policy-relevant environmental information has taken on a new momentum. By late 2017, 20 countries in the region were producing SEEA accounts (Central Framework and Ecosystem Accounts) and another 15 were in the process of piloting accounts.
Much of this momentum is being driven by the realization that official statistics on the environment are essential to monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. However, many National Statistical Offices (NSOs) in member States do not yet have environment statistics programs, let alone the technical capacity and human resources to compile the required indicators.
This challenge of matching the supply with the demand for environment statistics has been addressed by many member States by establishing inter-departmental working groups that collaborate on compiling priority SEEA accounts. ESCAP and its partners have supported these developments in four ways:
• Convening sub-regional assessment, training, work planning workshops,
• Providing targeted technical assistance.
• Convening specialized workshops.
• Supporting capacity building in environment statistics through the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP) in Chiba, Japan.
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