Summary Guidance for Account Compilers and Data Providers

1. Ocean Accounts: why do we need them?

1.1 Urgent need for ocean accounting

Oceans holds an immense wealth of resources and hold the means for boosting economic growth, employment, and innovation. Healthy oceans are responsible for food security and regulating climate, and provide potential solutions to global challenges, through energy generation and medical care through biotechnology. It is no surprise that Ocean-based sectors are regarded among the fastest growing economic sectors in both developed and developing countries and projected to be worth over USD $3 trillion by 2030, employing 40 million people.

The benefits we receive from the ocean, however, are threatened by the increased demand, and therefore increasingly intensive use of ocean resources. Human activities contribute to pressures, such as pollution, ocean acidification and warming, depletion of fish stocks and species, and other unsustainable practices. Achieving sustainable ‘blue growth’ in ocean sectors is a critical challenge, in balancing the use of our oceans and its resources with the preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems and the numerous benefits that they provide.

These issues can be addressed through integrated and evidence-based ocean governance, with decisions that encompasses the ocean economy, society, and the health of coastal and marine ecosystems. This requires integrating economic analysis with the health of ocean resources and identifying the beneficiaries of such decisions.

1.2 Governance context

A comprehensive sequence of ocean accounts enables countries to compile statistics, which can be used to monitor three critical trends towards sustainable development:

  • changes in ocean wealth, including produced assets (e.g. ports) and non-produced assets (e.g. mangroves, coral reefs),

  • ocean-related income and welfare for different groups of people (e.g. income from fisheries for local communities)

  • ocean-based economic production (e.g. GDP from ocean-related sectors).

1.3 Policy Context

Ocean accounts are designed to function as a common reference point for diverse policy questions, related to:

  • Ocean development—e.g. GDP in the shipping sector and associated GHG emissions; value-added in fisheries exports versus stock health and employment.

  • Marine spatial planning and protection—e.g. changes in biodiversity or flows of ecosystem services like carbon storage or flood risk regulation

  • International reporting—e.g. integrated progress reports for the SDGs, Paris Agreement, CBD, etc., which reduce reliance on ad-hoc studies or consultants.

2. Introduction to the Ocean Accounts Framework

2.1 Summary of Technical Guidance

The Technical Guidance for Ocean Accounts describes a statistical framework for measuring the ocean and its relationship with society and the economy. The document provides some guidance on how to use the framework and what to do with the results.  The intent is to provide a common measurement framework that demonstrates how scientific information can be integrated using environmental-economic and other complementary approaches to address national policy priorities.  The technical guidance is divided into five sections, presented in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1. Sections contained within the Technical Guidance for Ocean Accounts



Introduction to Ocean Accounts

Introduces the components of the Ocean Accounts Framework, including scientific and statistical foundations.

Structure of Ocean Accounts

Links the components to their foundations in existing statistical frameworks and describes the recommended adaptations and extensions.

Process guidance for compilation of Ocean Accounts

Describes the recommended process for implementing Ocean Accounts, including setting priorities, establishing a shared spatial framework among stakeholders and compiling data.

Use and maintenance of Ocean Accounts

Suggests other considerations including producing indicators, data sources, policy and governance use cases, research use cases, and enabling factors such as institutional, regulatory, and legal frameworks.

Research agenda for ocean accounting

Describes in more detail the areas in which more work is required, such as establishing agreement on spatial units, ecosystem classifications, ecosystem services classification, valuation approaches, application of modelling and remote sensing, and new indicator development.

Accounts (SNA) and the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) to organize ocean data into a common framework. Ocean accounts are integrable with national accounts, which are needed to compile a coherent and holistic set of indicators to inform ocean decision making, reporting and assessment beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The ocean accounts framework provides guidance that enables decision-makers to monitor (I) ocean assets which are marine and coastal natural capital (II) ocean services used in the economy including ocean ecosystem services (III) impacts of economic activities to the ocean environment including marine debris (IV) ocean-based economic production or an ocean economy (V) changes in how oceans are governed and managed (VI) key information on benefits and costs of the ocean and (VII) changes in ocean wealth which is the most important indicator of sustainability.

2.2 Brief definition of ocean account outputs

 Ocean Accounts are designed to support coherent and holistic reporting and assessment of the wide range of social, economic, and environmental conditions related to oceans. This broad perspective is consistent with the practical information requirements of decision-making to achieve sustainable development, which may be defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. More specifically, Ocean Accounts can perform several functions that may justify a decision to invest effort and resources to compile them:

  • Integrated reporting: The Ocean Accounts Framework provides a holistic structure, that can be used organise the information required for integrated reporting of social, economic and environmental conditions related to oceans, including reporting of progress towards national ocean-based development objectives, and international commitments including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ocean Accounts facilitate the structuring of information relevant to SDG 14 and its ten associated Targets, which call on all countries and stakeholders to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.  

  • Analysis and evaluation for sustainable development planning: By virtue of their holistic and integrated structure, Ocean Accounts can be used as a basis for analysing the economic relevance of the ocean’s environmental assets, the environmental implications of ocean-based economic activity, and wide a range of other relationships that impact on the ability of countries to achieve sustainable development. This analysis supports the identification and evaluation of policy response options, in terms of their impacts on assets (environmental, social, economic) that underpin development, and on the flows of services and benefits from these assets.

  • Meeting international commitments: The compilation of Ocean Accounts directly implements a range of international commitments, including but not limited to: 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; and 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.

2.3 Why are ocean accounts useful?

The ocean accounts framework is flexible and modular in its implementation. Its spatially explicit focus allows tailoring of the accounts to suit a country’s specific circumstances and policy needs, such as the identification of high-risk areas of over tourism carrying capacity in Southern Thailand or comprehensive mapping of land-ocean interactions for ecosystem-based marine spatial planning in Quang Ninh, Viet Nam.

National ocean account pilots initiated the compilation process by targeting key policy priority areas and utilizing existing data and capacity. These accounts, albeit with limited data, provided useful information for policy action (such as Thailand and Viet Nam), with progress and completeness of accounts evolving over time. Standardizing information through ocean accounts also reduces reliance on ad hoc and segregated data for critical decisions and helps identify important knowledge gaps, such that targeted investments to close the gaps can be prioritized to ensure the highest added value.

Ocean accounts once initiated and updated regularly will serve as a common and multipurpose information infrastructure, in place of disconnected and partially produced datasets, for the assessment, monitoring and reporting of ocean-related commitments, policies and plans.


3. Summary structure and methods for compiling Ocean Accounts

3.1 Key Indicators driving ocean accounts development

Development of Ocean Accounts is aligned with the UN SDGs. Within the 17 overarching goals, Ocean Accounts are driven specifically by the following goals:

  • Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the ocean, sea, and marine resources for sustainable development

  • Goal 15.9: By 2020, integrate ecosystems / biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes and poverty reduction strategies, and accounts

  • Goal 17.19: By 2030, build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement GDP, and support statistical capacity building in developing countries

  • To achieve these SDGs, national Ocean Accounts aim to provide high-level summary indicators relevant to three broad topics areas:

  • Ocean product measures the ‘outputs’ of human activities in or around the ocean. These are measured as ‘means’ or ‘inputs’ that achieve other social and economic goals; monetary components of the ocean product account aggregate to ocean GDP or net domestic product (NDP).

  • Change in the ocean balance sheet provides a sustainability indicator and includes the valuation of ‘natural capital’ such as fish stocks, coastal wetlands, and seabed minerals. These may also extend to cultural and indigenous values. Together, these fall under the heading of ‘non-produced’ assets and are compiled alongside ‘produced assets’, such as port infrastructure. Changes in the balance sheet integrate physical and monetary changes.

  • Ocean income measures benefits to the public and national interests from the ocean. These are measured as ‘ends’ or ‘outcomes’ of policy; income accounts aggregate to net national income (NNI). Income measures can be disaggregated to show the importance of the ocean for different segments of the population. Furthermore, income can include non-monetary types of income.

3.2 Compiling Summary Indicators

The outputs of an ocean accounting study may include several detailed tables on ecosystem extent, condition, and services with respect to the issue and study area being addressed. Aggregating information into policy-relevant summary indicators will ensure that the results of the study are easy to communicate. The Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES) provides recommendations on several ocean-related indicators, which may address policy needs and provide context to the study. Part of this communication should also include an assessment of data quality and availability. Table 3.1 provides an overview of summary indicators that could be produced to meet address policy needs.

Table 3.1 Selected issues, summary indicators, context and quality concerns


Summary indicator


Quality concerns

The value of the ocean economy

Annual production value by resource type (market vs non-market) and ecosystem type;


Proportion of value of national economy.

Possible economic losses (in % of GDP) if ecosystems not rehabilitated or protected.

Estimations required; valuation methods used

Non-market ocean services

Physical measures of regulating and maintenance services (coastal protection, flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, water purification, etc.)

Proportion of essential ecosystem services provided by the ocean (i.e., compared with terrestrial assessments);

Applying one factor to ecosystem types of varying conditions.

Appropriateness of global factors used to local ecosystems;

Ecosystems extent and/or designated use

Area of ecosystem types and uses of concern.

Change in area (e.g., decline in mangrove; increase in MPA).

Proportion of national EEZ (e.g., MPA)

Areas where ecosystem type is unknown; uncertainty in maps (resolution, inconsistencies); age of data

Land-based sources of marine pollution linked to ecosystem condition

Most significant location and industry of pollutants of concern.

Condition of ecosystems affected by pollutants of concern.

National proportion of unmanaged pollutants.

Proportion of land-based pollutants flowing to ocean.

Locations and extent of pristine and degraded ocean ecosystems.

Estimates of pollutants based on proportion of economic activity or population.

Availability of data on condition of marine ecosystems.

Resource requirements and impacts of tourism

Resource requirements of current and planned tourism (water, energy, land).

Current and probable impact of ocean tourism (waste, habitat degradation);

Value of current and planned tourism with respect to overall economy.

Resource requirements and impacts of alternative forms of tourism (cultural, agricultural, urban)

Estimating resource requirements and impacts of tourism based on small-sample surveys.

Distinguishing ocean tourism from other tourism;

3.3 Underlying tables (balance sheet, supply and use, etc) — what do they look like and what types of statistics go into them?

Ocean Accounts are fundamentally a collection of tables, organised in terms of a conceptual framework (see Figure 3.1).  The tables are aligned with and extend concepts and definitions found within SNA and SEEA frameworks, including:

  • The economy — as defined by SNA,

  • Environmental assets, including ecosystems; flows to economy; flows to environment, national wealth — as defined by SEEA CF and EEA.

  • Benefits and costs — as in SNA and SEEA but extended to types of beneficiaries.

  • Governance — partly aligned with and an extension of SEEA monetary flows.

Several Tables in the Ocean Accounts Framework accommodate spatially explicit information (for example the location of marine ecosystems). Other Tables record information that is spatially independent (for example the monetary supply and use of goods and services in the ocean economy). Within the Ocean Accounts Framework spatially explicit information is organised by a spatial structure comprised of marine, coastal, and terrestrial spatial units (Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.1 Illustrative view of the ocean accounts framework

Figure 3.2 Basic spatial units for Ocean Accounts.

3.3.1 Accounting for extent and condition of ocean assets

Environmental assets consist of biotic (e.g. mangroves, seagrasses) and abiotic components (e.g. beaches, rocky shores), as well as their designated use (e.g. marine protected area, fishing area). Not many countries have all this information available at spatial detail and in one dataset. Compiling available data nationally will support many analyses of policy interest.

There are several internationally recognised marine and coastal ecosystem classifications, where countries begin with existing priority ecosystem types. The IUCN global ecosystem typology is recognised as relevant to Ocean Accounts.

In general terms, ecosystem condition is measured by collating indicators for various characteristics of different ecosystem types (see Appendix 6.10 of Technical Guidance). An understanding of ecosystem condition supports the assessment of their capacity to provide ecosystem services. Linked with the ecosystem extent maps, the assessment of condition will help identify degraded ecosystem assets that would benefit from rehabilitation and/or protection.

3.3.2 Assessing flows to and from Ocean Assets

Flows from the ocean environment to the economy can be divided into four categories, consistent with the SEEA–CF and SEEA–EEA and include materials, energy, water, and ecosystem services. Ocean ecosystem services should be classified so they can be consistently organised within the ocean accounting framework over time. A range of ecosystem services classifications exist, which are discussed in detail in Section 3 of the Technical Guidance. CICES is an approach with a coding structure for enumerated ecosystem services and divided into three major categories:

  • Provisioning: all nutritional, non-nutritional material and energetic outputs from living systems as well as abiotic outputs (including water).

  • Regulation and Maintenance: All the ways in which living organisms can mediate or moderate the ambient environment that affects human health, safety or comfort, together with abiotic equivalents.

  • Cultural: All the non-material, and normally non-rival and non-consumptive, outputs of ecosystems (biotic and abiotic) that affect physical and mental states of people.

  • Account producers should also note alternative classification schemes such as FEGS/NESCS approaches and ‘Nature’s Contributions to People’ (IPBES).

3.3.3 Assessing the Ocean economy

The SNA conceptually includes all marine and ocean-related economic production including subsistence, informal and illegal activities. The SNA, however, does not cover non-market assets, whilst SEEA includes details on environmental expenditures. The International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC Rev. 4) includes categories for marine fishing (0311), marine aquaculture (0321), sea and coastal water transport (501), and other ocean-related industries. 

Identifying and defining ‘partial’ ocean-related activities is continually evolving and may differ considerably by nation or region in the extent of activity. The definition should be measurable using a variety of economic statistics, including output, employment, wages, number of establishments, etc. consistent with national statistical series. Over two dozen countries and international organisations have completed or in the process of relating national income accounts and related statistical systems to ocean economic activity (see Global Progress Assessment on Ocean Accounting).

3.3.4 Assessing ocean governance

Involves a range of qualitative and quantitative analyses to identify and characterise:

  • Zoning: Jurisdictional zone (e.g. Internal Waters, Territorial Sea, EEZ/CS); Management or planning zone (e.g. protected area, private property, aquaculture, energy development, submarine cable corridor, etc).

  • Decision-making institutions and associated rules: accounted for in terms of their spatial jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction (e.g. relevant sector(s)), and the key rules that they apply.

  • Social circumstances: Public health, poverty, social inclusion.

  • Risk and resilience: Flood / storm surge risk, resilience more broadly.

There are considerable overlaps in practice with the diagnostic tool exercise.

3.4 Supporting data structures for ocean accounts

The supporting data structures for ocean accounts are under development, but are aligned with the Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange (SDMX) used for SNA and currently under development for SEEA. SDMX is an international initiative that aims at standardising and modernising the mechanisms and processes for the exchange of statistical data and metadata among international organisations and their member countries. Experimental data structures are tested using NoSQL, to contain heterogenous data structures and metadata.

3.5 Outstanding questions / research agenda: 

The Technical Guidance is a work in progress and future revisions will benefit from additional research, testing and deliberation among experts and users (see Appendix 6.8 for an extensive list of research questions compiled from contributors). Definitions and concepts which require further research are presented in Table 3.1 below.

Table 3.2. Selected research questions for ocean accounts.


Selected research questions

Ocean assets

Including produced capital, such as ports and harbours, and other coastal and marine infrastructure in asset accounts.

Including human capital, such as knowledge about the ocean and experience with the ocean (e.g. cultural ecosystem services).

Developing a comprehensive view of monetary asset accounts, one that includes the future flows of SNA and non-SNA benefits.

Flows to the economy

Linking ecosystem processes with the ecosystem services classification (a challenge across all ecosystem services accounting).

Reconciling the “commodity” approach of the SEEA with the “activity” approach of the Ocean Economy Satellite Accounts in establishing physical and monetary flows to the economy.

Ocean economy

Establishing an agreed conceptual framework and classification of characteristic economic activities to support a more standardized approach to Ocean Economy Satellite Accounting (see Ocean economy satellite accounts).

Linking ocean economy satellite accounts to changes in physical and related financial capital.

Combined presentation

Developing appropriate economic, environmental and social indicators for combined presentations that encapsulate information on assets, conditions, flows at spatial and sectoral disaggregation.

Spatial database

Testing various sizes and shapes of Basic Spatial Units, for near-shore and offshore areas (see Developing a spatial database).

Testing 3-dimensional (volume) spatial frameworks and developing approaches that are consistent with area-based (2-dimensional) accounting (see the spatial data infrastructure for Ocean Accounts).

4. Developing an ocean accounting system

4.1 “Demand-driven” workflow – meeting existing needs of decision-makers

Creating a “complete” set of Ocean Accounts is a complex task. However, experience in SEEA implementation has proven that (a) accounts do not need to be complete and (b) to be policy relevant, not all accounts need to be developed. Ocean accounts may be compiled incrementally using existing data with modest investment in cross-government collaboration and international sharing of knowledge and lessons learnt.

4.1.1 Identifying priority questions for ocean decision-making

An essential step across ocean accounts pilots was strategic planning in preparation for compiling accounts, which identifies the priority questions that should be addressed by an account building exercise. The focus of accounts was informed by national policy targets, which were aligned with international commitments or domestic priorities, in line with the national vision for the ocean (e.g. blue economy strategies or strategic ocean plans, see Global Assessment of Progress on Ocean Accounts). Discerning the use-case priorities for ocean accounts, and the feasibility in addressing these needs may be informed by ‘lessons learnt’ in ocean accounts pilots, and SEEA implementation more broadly.

Ocean account pilots followed the below procedure (Figure 4.1) to identify national priorities, with identified priorities presented in Table 5.2.

Figure 4.1 Ocean account pilot process for scoping and addressing priority questions.

4.1.2 How to plan development of an accounting system to meet demand and guidance on prioritisation (where to focus efforts)

Once the priority use-case, with sufficient available data, has been identified, the next step is to ensure that accounts or parts of the accounts produced respond to the intended use. The following steps are recommended, derived from lessons learnt during pilots:

  • Form a multidisciplinary team: Ocean accounts apply concepts and methods from many disciplines. Hence, it is important that an interdepartmental team comprising members with complementary knowledge collaborate on ocean accounts, under the guidance and support of a high-level committee.

  • Leverage existing mechanisms and capacity for collaboration: Each government department has unique expertise and holds different sets of information that could be valuable in different parts of ocean accounts. Existing institutional mechanisms could be the main means of engaging stakeholders throughout the process.

  • Use technology and global datasets to fill gaps: Remote sensing technologies can assist the collection, harmonization and processing of earth observation data, particularly when relevant statistics or government-generated administrative data were not available.

  • Consult experts and partners: Ocean accounting is a new concept. Efforts in developing ocean accounts will greatly benefit from experiences and lessons from countries that have experimented with the framework.

4.2 “Data-driven” workflow — connecting what data / statistics you have, to add value

The value of an ocean account lies in its ability to aggregate a diverse range of data to produce indicators, which inform decision-makers on a range of policy issues. An integrated set of accounts should contain data concerning ocean assets (ecosystem and individual assets) and ocean services. Environmental data could then be related to sectors within the ocean economy. Most Ocean Accounts pilot studies have used a Scoping Report as input to a first national workshop. This workshop is an opportunity to review the scoping report, revise it if necessary and to agree on the focus of the pilot.

4.2.1.    How to conduct holistic inventories of existing data

Almost all pilot ocean accounts have identified data availability and access as major constraints. Even when data are known to be available, they may be distributed across many sources, use different standards and be difficult to access for confidentiality reasons. The general advice is to know what data you have by conducting an inventory of available data. This may be initiated through the scoping process as a request to relevant data holders. Relevant data may also be available from global data sources.

There is a broad range of existing national data that can be exploited to compile ocean accounts, including:

  • statistical data such as the SNA, census and social surveys, ongoing SEEA-CF and SEEA-EEA accounts (e.g. waste, land, ecosystems)

  • geospatial data, such as national land cover maps,

  • administrative data, such as fish catch or mine production statistics.

These existing data can be repurposed for use in ocean accounts. However, existing data may not be sufficient to compile the accounts that have been designated as priorities. In these cases, compilers may need to explore alternative sources, such as global geospatial (earth observation), fisheries data, monitoring data and data platforms. Pilot studies have addressed constraints by using public data, establishing data sharing agreements between relevant institutions, and conducting field-work and socio-economic surveys.

4.3 Enabling factors for ocean accounting — conditions of success, and types of capacity required

From the ocean account pilots, success factors included:

  • Commencing with a comprehensive scoping report and data inventory, made in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders.

  • Early consultation with stakeholders, coordinated by a high-level panel, facilitates inter-agency cooperation and data-sharing.

  • Starting small, with a few ecosystem types that are aligned with national priorities. Later efforts may then scale the accounts to larger areas.

One of the most critical factors for the implementation of the Ocean Accounting framework is capacity building, in terms of technical expertise and data accessibility. As environmental-economic approaches are relatively new, some pilot studies reported a lack of training in statistical approaches. Further, due to the spatially-explicit nature of data, other teams lacked geospatial expertise and access to GIS technology. ESCAP provides several training resources on the compilation of SEEA and ocean accounts. Other pilots lacked scientific expertise in the capacity to collect, use, and interpret scientific data.

Access to coherent and relevant data was also an issue (see Section 4.2.1). Access to geo-spatial platforms, large volumes of Earth observation, economic and social science data, innovative use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms and techniques will be ineffective should stakeholders not be proficient with the basic tools.

5. Additional resources and next steps

5.1 Further reading

This ‘quick start’ lies in a wider collection of documents that support different aspects of ocean accounting, summarised in Table 5.1 below.

Table 5.1 Additional documents in support of Ocean Accounting.



High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy

National Accounting For The Ocean And Ocean Economy’, commissioned by the Ocean Panel, highlights the critical role of national accounting in achieving a sustainable ocean economy, and major gaps in how the ocean, ocean services and ocean assets are currently treated in national accounts. It offers four principles for national ocean accounting and discusses methods for measuring and valuing ocean assets and their rise and decline.

Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP) document family

The GOAP has produced several knowledge products to promote awareness of the ocean accounts framework and provide guidance in the production and use of ocean accounts. This ‘quick start’ provides a summary ‘frequently asked questions’ arising from the ‘Technical Guidance for Ocean Accounts’. ‘Guidance for Decision Makers’ provides an overview of policy and use-cases in support ocean accounts. The ‘Global Progress Assessment on Ocean Accounting for Sustainable Development’ provides summaries of pilot studies related to the compilation and maintenance of ocean accounts. All documents can be found on the GOAP website or accessed in ‘wiki’ format.

ESCAP document family

The Regional Ocean Accounts Platform contains ocean accounts knowledge products such as lessons learnt from the compilation and use of ocean accounts, training materials, documentation of pilot studies (Canada, China, Malaysia, Samoa, Thailand and Viet Nam). The platform further hosts a Global Ocean Data Inventory, which includes data on spatial units, ecosystems (extent and condition) and the provision and use of ecosystem services.

ESCAP has also provided an assessment of progress on SDG14 data availability and reporting, and Marine Spatial Planning (2009 – 2019) using area-based approaches.

ESCAP has also contextualised ocean accounting for disaster resilience, with a further focus on Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

OECD documents

The Ocean Economy in 2030 provides comprehensive overview and assessment of the ocean from an economic perspective including defining an ocean economy and measuring the economic contribution of ocean-based industries.


5.2 How to get started: 

5.2.1 Integrating ocean accounts into resourcing for other projects (MSP, ocean-sector development, SDG and Paris Agreement reporting)

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development provides an important opportunity to build on the current interest, need for and momentum for Ocean Accounting. Efforts have been undertaken to include Ocean Accounting within the priorities of the UN Decade, as investments made towards the implementation of such a framework will also benefit and further enable the establishment of solid methodologies for the monitoring and reporting of SDG -14 indicators.

Ocean accounts may also be produced alongside sectoral or area-based planning exercises, such as Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). Area (or ecosystem) based measures often compile social, economic and ecological data, for use in manging human activities in the ocean space. As more than 70 countries are in the process or have completed marine spatial plans, much of the data found could be used towards the development of ocean accounting inventories.

Table 5.2 Priority topics and policy concerns identified by Ocean Accounts pilots.


Policy concern

The value of the ocean economy, either broadly in terms of all ocean services (biotic and abiotic) or narrowly in terms of the contribution of non-market ecosystem services

Sustainability of ocean economy, equitable distribution of benefits, including sustainability of food supply (fish and aquatic plants)

To consolidate existing spatial information on ocean ecosystems extent and/or designated use as a precursor to conducting marine spatial planning (MSP)

Sustainable use of the ocean, reducing habitat degradation, reducing biodiversity loss, improving disaster resilience, establishing MPAs

Land-based sources of marine pollution including drainage-basin-level SEEA water, water emissions and solid waste accounts (especially plastics) linked to ecosystem condition

Reducing habitat degradation and biodiversity loss

5.2.2 Point of contact for further information and support

The Global Ocean Accounts Partnership (GOAP) establishes a coordination and communication structure for 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. The Partnership is responsible for developing a shared technical framework for ocean accounting, coupled with collaborative capacity-building activities that support the development, maintenance, and ongoing use in decision-making, of holistic ocean accounts that link together social, environmental and economic statistics.

Organisations interested to join or receive advisory support from the Partnership should contact the Secretariat at