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  • The Global Ocean Accounts Partnership represents a commitment to improving, harmonising, and applying ocean-related data in accordance with international standards and in keeping with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Secretariat for the Partnership is hosted by the Global Water Institute at the University of New South Wales. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is a founding partner.

  • Several UN agencies have contributed to the document and are participating in pilot studies. ESCAP initiated the first Asia and the Pacific Regional Expert Workshop on Ocean Accounts in August of 2018. During 2019, it supported pilot studies in Asia and the Pacific (China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Samoa, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Viet Nam). ESCAP continues to lead on statistical development of the framework.


  • This Guidance is the principal knowledge product of an ongoing global collaboration process, referred to hereafter as the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP). The GOAP brings together diverse member institutions who have a common interest to ensure that the values and benefits of oceans are recognized and accounted for in decision-making about social and economic development. Membership of the Partnership is open to national governments, intergovernmental institutions, inclusive representative bodies for the private sector, and research-intensive institutions that have been granted formal not-for-profit status in their country of origin. Members make a mutual non-contractual commitment to common Partnership Terms of Reference.

  • The Global Ocean Accounts Partnership was launched by the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on behalf of the United Nations in response to the following international commitments:

    • SDG 14 and the ten associated Targets (see Indicators for sustainable development) in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), calling on all countries and stakeholders to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

    • SDG Target 15.9, calling on all countries and stakeholders, by 2020, to integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts.

    • SDG Target 17.19, calling on all countries and stakeholders, by 2030, to build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement Gross Domestic Product, and support statistical capacity-building in developing countries.

    • UN General Assembly Resolution 71/312 entitled Our Ocean, our future: a call for action, which inter alia stresses (1) the importance of enhancing understanding of the health and role of our ocean and the stressors on its ecosystems, including through assessments on the state of the ocean, based on science and traditional knowledge systems, and (2) the need to further increase marine scientific research to inform and support decision-making, and to promote knowledge hubs and networks to enhance the sharing of scientific data, best practices and know-how.

    • UN Statistical Commission Decision 49/110, which inter alia (1) requested that ocean statistics be integrated in the work of the revision process of the System for Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) Experimental Ecosystem Accounting, and (2) encouraged implementation of the SEEA Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. 

    • ESCAP Resolution E/ESCAP/RES/73/5 encouraging member States to continue to enhance their capacity to sustainably manage the ocean and requests the Secretariat to support current and new regional partnerships for enhancing data and statistical capacities for SDG14 in the region.

    • ESCAP Resolution E/ESCAP/RES/72/6 requesting the Secretariat, inter alia, to strengthen support to member States in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda in an integrated approach, inter alia, with analytical products, technical services and capacity building initiatives through knowledge-sharing products and platforms, and to enhance data and statistical capacities.

    • ESCAP Resolution E/ESCAP/RES/72/9 requesting the Secretariat, inter alia, to undertake an assessment of capacity development needs of the countries in Asia and the Pacific for the implementation of SDG14.

  • The process to develop this Guidance has comprised the following steps to date:

    • Assessment by ESCAP to gain a better understanding of the capacity development needs in relation to SDG 14 in Asia and the Pacific to help inform ESCAP’s work in this area.

    • Preparation of 10 Issue Briefs and associated summary presentations, featuring written contributions from 122 subject matter experts from more than 25 countries. Each Brief discusses a specific aspects of ocean data and statistics, in particular options and challenges concerning the compilation of Ocean Accounts, and the use of these accounts in different governance contexts.

    • The Asia and the Pacific Regional Expert Workshop on Ocean Accounts, hosted by ESCAP in Bangkok from 1–3 August 2018, as the inaugural event of the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership. The purpose of the Workshop was to facilitate a community of practice around standards for ocean statistics, both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. The 85 participants included experts in ocean statistics, sciences, and policy from national governments and research institutions as well as regional and international organisations.

    • Several countries are engaging with partners to conduct pilot studies of the Ocean Accounts Framework. The principle behind the pilots is to (1) understand the statistical requirements and governance context for addressing national (or sub-national) priorities and (2) to engage multi-stakeholder working groups to test relevant aspects of the accounts. To date, related pilots have been initiated by Australia, Canada, China, Malaysia, Samoa, Thailand and Viet Nam.

    • The Global Dialogue on Ocean Accounting on 12-15 November 2019 was co-hosted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), ESCAP and the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, supported by the World Bank Blue Economy Program. The 100+ participants at this workshop provided input to this Guidance, provided feedback on seven Ocean Accounts pilots, showcased research and best practices, and made plans for improving connections between ocean data and ocean governance.