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Economy-wide material flow accounts and derived indicators: a methodological guide

Economy-wide material flow accounts and derived indicators: a methodological guide
Journal Article
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities
This guide presents a framework and practical guidance for establishing material flow accounts and material
balances for a whole economy. Material flow accounts and balances, as described in the Introduction, are
being compiled in a number of Member States. The guide is a first step towards harmonised terminology,
concepts and a set of accounts and tables for compilers at national level.
This publication is one of the outputs of Eurostat's Environmental Accounting work. It contributes to various
EU-wide and international activities in the context of national and environmental accounting, including the
revision of the United Nations' System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA). The
publication was prepared by Mr H. Schütz of the Wuppertal Institute and Mr A. Steurer of Eurostat B1.

1.01 This Guide focuses on material flow accounts (MFA) and balances for a whole economy. These
economy-wide material flow accounts and balances show the amounts of physical inputs into an
economy, material accumulation in the economy and outputs to other economies or back to nature as
illustrated by Figure 1.

1.02 Most statistical institutes in Europe have the experience and data needed to compile economy-wide
MFA and balances (see Eurostat 1997). Work at Eurostat includes projects on the policy use of
material flow information, physical input-output tables and economy-wide MFA and balances. Since
the first economy-wide MFA and balances for Austria (Steurer 1992) and Japan (Environmental
Protection Agency 1992) many researchers and statisticians have used similar approaches. Within the
EU, economy-wide MFA are now available for Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria,
Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
1.03 Research has advanced in recent years and standard concepts and formats are evolving. The
European Commission funded ConAccount project (1996-1997) and the international projects leading
to the publication of ‘Resource Flows: the material basis of industrial economies' (Adriaanse et al
1997) and ‘The Weight of Nations - material outflows from industrial economies' (Matthews et al 2000)
were important steps towards internationally comparable data based on harmonised approaches.
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