AFRICA: COPERNICEA programme for ecological accounting

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AFRICA: COPERNICEA programme for ecological accounting©Foto 4440/Shutterstock

The African continent is adopting an environmental accounting software programme: COPERNICEA. It is a new accounting tool that will enable all African countries to be part of the biodiversity agenda.

The COOPERNICEA, Regional Cooperation on New Indicators for Ecosystem Accounting in Africa) programme represents a fundamental paradigm shift in Africa. For the first time on the continent, national accounts will focus on green assets.

The method used by the Copernicea programme is that of CECN (Ecosystem Accounting for Natural Capital). It involves drawing up environmental accounts in terms of vegetation cover, biocarbon, fresh water, ecological infrastructure, resilience index or ecosystem health.

Provisional launch in six countries in West and North Africa

The official launch workshop for COPERNICEA’s activities will take place from the 16th to the 18th of March 2020 in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. This North African country is one of the six countries targeted by the programme, along with Burkina Faso, Guinea, Morocco, Niger and Senegal. These coastal, Sahelian or Maghreb states were chosen beforehand because of the major challenges they face in terms of water, climate, land use and biodiversity erosion. The duration of the programme is estimated at 4 years, at a cost of 5 million euros.

The COPERNICEA is being developed by the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS), with financial support from the French Development Agency (AFD).

Through a better assessment of countries’ natural capital, the programme helps, among other things, to inform agricultural, infrastructure and tourism investment choices in terms of their impacts on ecosystems, water resources, changes in carbon stock and land use. Ultimately, the aim is to establish a national and regional network for sharing and exchanging information and data useful and necessary for Ecosystem Accounting for Natural Capital (CECN). COPERNICEA is also intended as a continental reference system, which will enable all African countries to join the biodiversity agenda of the Convention of the Parties on Biological Diversity, which will hold its 15th conference in August 2020 in Kunming, China.

Boris Ngounou


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