Socio-ecological accounting: DPSWR, a modified DPSIR framework, and its application to marine ecosystems

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In contrast to institutionally focussed environmental accounting, socio-ecological accounting frameworks organise information concerned with human–environment interactions at scales relevant to ecosystem change and thus encapsulate information more relevant to ecosystem-based management. The DPSIR (Driver–Pressure–State–Impact–Response) framework has been used to identify relevant information in a number of ecosystem contexts but suffers limitations in terms of its definitional clarity and conceptual foundations, which undermine comparability between studies. These limitations are addressed in the DPSWR (Driver–Pressure–State–Welfare–Response) framework, which defines information categories based on a synthesis of concepts in DPSIR and its predecessors so as to more clearly identify the object of measurement in each category and isolate information relating to social systems. Consequently, its categories dealing with social systems are better suited to assessing anthropocentric trade-offs in environmental decision-making, such as through cost–benefit analysis. A conceptual input–output analysis is used to highlight measurement issues connected with the inter-relations between information categories, particularly with regard to scale, and the application of the framework is illustrated by reference to issues affecting marine ecosystems included in a Europewide study for the European Commission. However, DPSWR's definitions are designed to be sufficiently general as to support application in other ecosystem contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Sustainability
  • Socio-ecological accounting
  • Environmental accounting
  • Ecosystem approach
  • Marine ecosystems


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  • KnowSeas

    Cooper, P. & Taylor, T.

    European Commission


    Project: EU Commission

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