Preparing the second version of natural capital accounts for the North East Atlantic

Internship at Rijkswaterstaat in the Netherlands.

March 2021 the United Nations Statistical Commission adopted the System of Environmental Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA), which constitutes an integrated and comprehensive statistical framework for organizing data about habitats and landscapes, measuring the ecosystem services, tracking changes in ecosystem assets, and linking this information to economic and other human activity.

In October 2021, OSPAR, the organization that is responsible for the international coordination of environmental policy of the North East Atlantic, adopted the new North East Atlantic Environmental Strategy. One of its objectives, S7.O3, states that ‘By 2025 OSPAR will start accounting for ecosystem services and natural capital by making maximum use of existing frameworks in order to recognize, assess and consistently account for human activities and their consequences in the implementation of ecosystem-based management’.

As a first contribution to this objective, in July 2021 OSPAR organized an international meeting on Marine Natural Capital Accounting, with economists, statisticians, and environmental scientists and policy makers from across the globe, to discuss what marine natural capital accounting is and how it can be used to support decision-making. At that meeting also the first version of the natural capital accounts for the North East Atlantic was presented and discussed.

OSPAR would like to continue to work on natural capital accounting and ecosystem services. Therefore, Rijkswaterstaat as chair of the OSPAR working group on economic and social analyses, is now looking for a student who would like to prepare the second version of the natural capital accounts for the OSPAR area during a 6-month internship (September 2022 – March 2023).                

An important part of the work would be to extend the list of ecosystem services that are currently described in the first version of the natural capital accounts, so that in the end, the natural capital accounts include the supply and use tables in quantitative and monetary terms (as much as possible) for the following 17 ecosystem services:

ecosystem services.png

Another important aspect that should be explored in more detail in this second version is the possible use of natural capital accounts to support the various objectives described in the new North East Atlantic Strategy, e.g. in the form of case studies.


The successful applicant should:

  • pursue an MSc degree, preferably a combination of environmental economics and marine sciences;
  • be familiar with ecosystem services/natural capital accounting;
  • have good written and spoken expression skills in English (many consultations in English and the final report must be written in English);
  • be able to work independently: The daily supervisor will not be available every day;
  • be flexible and creative: Not all information will always be available at every desired level of detail, how do you arrive at a useful analysis?;
  • be able to work together with colleagues from different backgrounds to arrive at an integrated solution together.

Working at Rijkswaterstaat 

Rijkswaterstaat is the executive branch of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. We manage and develop the national highways, waterways and water courses, and work towards a sustainable living environment. Together with others, we are working on a country that is protected against flooding, where there is sufficient green space and clean water, and where you can get from A to B smoothly and safely. Working together on a safe, sustainable and accessible Netherlands, that is Rijkswaterstaat. Our field of work is public space. This presents us with dilemmas, because the interests of people, organisations and nature in that public space often differ. Together with citizens, companies, provinces and municipalities, we therefore work to find solutions that meet all these interests.

Next to providing you an opportunity to work at Rijkswaterstaat we offer you a gross internship remuneration of €635,- per month (based on 40 hours/week). More information on internships at Rijkswaterstaat can be found here.

If you are interested, you are welcome to send a motivation and cv to