Introduction to Environmental Accounting



The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 45 Benjamin Way, Belconnen ACT 2617

Environmental accounting is increasingly being used to support the development and analysis of government policy. This professional development short course is designed to provide mid- level government officials charged with developing, implementing or using environmental accounts with a broad understanding of the accounts.

The course has been designed to assist with the implementation of the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) as well as the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).

No specific prior knowledge is assumed but it is expected that participants have worked professionally within or with government in disciplines related to environmental accounting, including environmental science, ecological economics, natural resource management, national accounting or statistics. Participants should have, or expect to have, some responsibilities related to the development, implementation or use of environmental accounts. The course is conducted in English with no translation and is supplemented with pre-course reading. All assessment is in English.

The course, held over five (5) days draws on expertise from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, The Australian National University and other institutions. It covers the theoretical and practical fundamentals of environmental accounting and places this into an overall public policy framework. Examples are drawn from around the world, and information resources are discussed and explored in practical workshops. Participants will have the opportunity to share experiences and are invited to use their own data for shaping into accounts.

Environmental accounting can show how different sectors of the economy affect the environment and vice versa, and point to possible public policy interventions. As the understanding of environment-economy interactions increases, the appropriate policy responses should become clearer.


The course will cover the key questions:

  • What is environmental accounting and why is it important?
  • How can environmental accounting assist decision-making?
  • Which accounts are most relevant to answer key policy questions?
  • What practical considerations need to be addressed to make environmental accounting an enduring reality in countries?

Current policies and strategies developed to address particular problems, such as green growth, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and the range of economic instruments and legal instruments that could be used in response to particular issues, will be discussed.  The relationship between emerging policy tools and the legal and administrative structures required to facilitate implementation of accounts and effective policy responses is also considered.

The course combines lecture and workshop sessions on particular aspects of the accounts with an emphasis on participant-led inquiry, integrated with hands-on practical investigation of information and data resources on different types of accounts.  Expert engagement, peer learning and networking are all emphasised.

For the theme based accounts – water, land, energy, waste, carbon, ecosystems, etc. – sessions will cover key concepts and measurement, together with data sources and methods. Practical exercises will be conducted to consolidate understanding.  

The course has two field trips: one focused on water and ecosystem accounting and the other on measuring the condition of ecosystems. Participants will need to bring field clothing, including appropriate footwear (no sandals) and hats.  Sunscreen and water will be provided.

A day-by-day outline of the course is available on the website. Selected reading material will be provided for each session. 

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the course participants will be able to:

  • explain the key features of environmental accounting
  • understand the range of information sources needed to compile accounts
  • identify issues to which environmental accounts could be applied
  • populate basic accounting tables with existing information
  • know where to find help and additional information on the concepts, data sources and methods

In addition to knowledge of the accounts and their uses, course participants will develop the skills needed to manage a team with diverse knowledge and experience that is needed to produce and use environmental accounts.


The course will be assessed.  Students will have to prepare and deliver a presentation on environmental accounting, complete field and group work, and submit a short written assignment.

All assessment is in English. Further details of assessment will be provided during the course.



Course Fees:

Course (4 December - 8 December 2017)  AUD$2,900 (ex GST)

(Extensions may be negotiated)

Register Now

Registration: Registrations close at 5.00pm on 3 November 2017. Places are limited and early registration is recommended.

Register and pay for the Full Course prior to 29 September 2017 to receive a 10% discount.

Catering: Lunch is provided daily. (NOTE: The costs do NOT include travel to the venue, accommodation, breakfast or evening meals.)

Course Coordinator: Dr Michael Vardon,

To enrol contact:

Samantha Fischetti


T+61 2 612 54588

Steven May


T +61 2 6252 5593



  • Dr Michael Vardon is a Visiting Fellow at the Fenner School, ANU.
  • Prof David Lindenmayer is an expert in ecology, conservation and biodiversity at the Fenner School, ANU.
  • Prof Stephen Dovers is an environmental governance and policy specialist.
  • Prof Albert van Dijk leads the Water and Landscape Dynamics Group at the Fenner School.
  • Dr Phil Gibbons is an ecological researcher at the Fenner School, ANU.
  • Steven May is the Assistant Director at the ABS responsible for the production of ABS Water Accounts.
  • Ross Alexander is an Assistant Director at the ABS and expert in national accounts.
  • Sarah Coleman is an Assistance Director at the ABS and expert in environmental expenditure and waste accounts.
  • Thomas Walter is Assistant Director at the ABS and expert in GIS and land accounting.


Sessions will run between 9am and 5pm. There will be 30 minutes breaks between each session and a lunch break each day between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

Listed below is the final program. 

Monday 4 December 2017

Times Sessions Presenters
9–10.30am Welcome, Introductions, Course Overview & Assessment
  • Steven May
  • Michael Vardon
11am–12.30pm Key Concepts of Environmental Accounting
  • Michael Vardon
1.30–3pm Valuation
  • Ross Alexander
3.30–5pm Policy and accounting
  • Steve Dovers
  • Peter Burnett

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Times Sessions Presenters
9–10.30am Basic concepts and tools for national accounting
  • Ben Loughton
11am–12.30pm Water accounting
  • Steven May
1.30–3pm Implementing environmental accounting and group work on assessment tasks
  • Michael Vardon
3.30–5pm Land Accounting

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Times Sessions Presenters
9–10.30am Key concepts of ecosystems accounting
  • Michael Vardon
11am–12.30pm Ecosystem measurement and biodiversity accounting
  • David Lindenmeyer
1.30–3pm Field trip: Assessing ecosystem condition
  • Phil Gibbons

Thursday 7 December 2017

Times Sessions Presenters
9–10.30am Energy and greenhouse gas accounting
  • Peter Meadows
11am–12.30pm Biophysical modelling for ecosystem accounting
  • Albert van Dijk
1.30–3pm Waste, environmental protection expenditure and environmental goods and services sector
  • Sarah Coleman
3.30–5pm Group work on assessment tasks
  • Michael Vardon

Friday 8 December 2017

Times Sessions Presenters
9–10.30am Assessment
  • Michael Vardon
11am–12.30pm Panel Discussion: How can environmental accounting help decision-making?
  • Panelists TBC
1.30–3pm Presentations by candidates on account design, compilation and analysis task
3.30–5pm Presentation of awards

Updated:  23 July 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director Fenner School/Page Contact:  Webmaster Fenner School