Written on 26 Mar 2019

Wealth Economy team contributes to revision of UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting

The Bennett Institute’s Matthew Agarwala has contributed to the United Nations Statistics Division’s process for capturing the value of air filtration ecosystem services within an accounting framework.

Photo by Luis Poletti on Unsplash

The United Nations System of Environmental Economic Accounting – Experimental Ecosystem Accounts (SEEA EEA) represents a global attempt to develop a measurement framework for integrating biophysical data, tracking changes in ecosystems, and linking those changes to economic and other human activity.

The paper, co-authored with Professor Giles Atkinson (LSE), Rocky Harris (Defra), and others forms part of the SEEA-EEA revision process, with the intention that ecosystem accounting could be elevated to official UN statistical standards by 2020.

The research notes that “poor air quality is estimated to result in 4.5 million attributable deaths globally every year and is a major cause of morbidity. It also impacts negatively on visibility, infrastructure such as buildings, and on the state of habitats and species. By improving air quality, vegetation helps to mitigate these impacts on individuals’ health and wellbeing as well as supporting habitat function and species survival.”

Matthew Agarwala said, “Air purification represents a major benefit that we humans derive from ecosystems. Its economic impact is most directly felt through improved human health, which boosts labour productivity, improves quality of life, and reduces healthcare costs.”

Matthew Agarwala is the Research Leader for the Bennett Institute’s Wealth Economy: Natural and Social Capital project, funded by Letter One.

Recommended citation: Harris R., Reis S., Jones L., Agarwala M., Atkinson G., Nowak D. (2019). Discussion paper 4: Research paper on air filtration ecosystem services. Paper submitted to the Expert Meeting on Advancing the Measurement of Ecosystem Services for Ecosystem Accounting, New York, 22-24 January 2019 and subsequently revised. Version of 15 March 2019. Available at: