Material Flow Accounts (MFA) – Demonstration for Ireland

Final Report - ERTDI 45 - O'Leary et al

Summary: A first attempt at generating material flow accounts (MFAs) for Ireland. Identifies methodologies, as well as major data gaps for the future production of such accounts.

Published: 2006

Pages: 222

Filesize: 1,509 KB

Format: pdf


Executive Summary

Currently, countries measure their economic growth and performance through the System of National Accounts (SNA).

These financial accounts measure the total economic transactions in an economy. Indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) provide information on whether national income is growing or declining.

There is no equivalent system for measuring the physical "transactions" in an economy. Policy and other decision makers have very little idea of the material requirements of modern economies and few indicators of where, or when, physical constraints are likely to be reached.

One set of tools that can be used is material flow accounting (MFA) - accounting for the physical flow of materials through our economy and society.

This desk study serves as a first step in identifying available methodologies, demonstrating material flow accounts in an Irish situation, establishing the capability to produce flow accounts within Ireland, and identifying major data gaps for the future production of such accounts.

The main objectives of the study are to:

  • Review existing methodologies for material flow accounts (MFA) and select/tailor the methodology for Ireland
  • Demonstrate the methodology for two pilot cases (national fossil fuel flow accounts, together with derived indicators; and water flow accounts for a region
  • Identify data gaps for a complete set of national material flow accounts
  • Evaluate the applicability of MFA in Ireland and any policy implications

Full executive summary in report.