Community of Practice:

                              Ocean Accounts Framework

Valuing our Oceans

Fishing Net
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Mignon Voges


Global oceans are facing increasing pressures due to anthropogenic use and climate change. 

Several management practices, tools and strategies are continuously being developed to manage the marine environment more effectively for sustainable and equitable use. These include marine spatial planning, ecosystem-based management, sustainable ocean economies and natural capital accounting.


The field of natural capital accounting is gaining prominence globally as countries strive to develop the means to value their natural environments and resources to incorporate these into their governance practices.

Ocean accounts fall under the much larger framework of the United Nations-developed system of environmental and economic cccounts 2003 (SEEA 2003), and the more recent system of environmental-economic accounting 2012: experimental ecosystem accounting (developed to provide a more holistic assessment of ecosystems), which sets out how to incorporate ecosystem services into (economic) national accounting systems in a comparable manner for all countries.

This project aims to assess the applicability of the ocean-accounts framework (OAF) in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) as a central component of a wider strategy to ensure that ocean governance contributes as optimally as possible to the broader sustainable goals of South Africa and the IORA member States of the WIO by ensuring the inclusivity, safety, security and sustainability of coastal communities.

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Derek Zimmerman

During phase one (2020–2021) the project objectives focus on investigating the efficiency and relevance of the Ocean Accounts Framework in implementing ocean policy and applying ocean-governance instruments. The risks and vulnerabilities associated with climate change, food security and unsustainable development are also investigated, as well as the role of gender and culture in the OAF through disaggregation of data.

The community of practice is led by Professor Patrick Vrancken (of Nelson Mandela University) as the principal investigator. To address the major knowledge gaps arising from the introduction and development of the OAF, the community of practice has been divided into eight work packages. Each package focuses on various aspects within the Framework that include scientists across several research disciplines and from institutes including Nelson Mandela University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, SAEON, University of the Western Cape and the Human Sciences Research Council.

Several aspects of this project have been identified as key to the development of the OAF in South Africa. These include the integration of data (standardisation) across disciplines, the sustainability of ocean governance, inclusivity, providing a deeper understanding of the existing environmental accounts and developing novel accounts applicable to South Africa that can be applied to similar countries.




Work Programme Leaders

Prof Juliet Hermes

Prof Ken Findlay

Prof Jolene Kotze

Prof Rose Boswell



Ms Ammaarah Abrahams
Administrative assistant




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