The MENA Region faces a range of challenges to its long-term security and prosperity in the 21st century. Although many of the Region’s economic challenges have been widely analyzed, environmental challenges are rarely taken into consideration in the process of formulating economic policies in the MENA Region. This paper begins to address the major gaps in knowledge about the economics of the environment in the MENA Region and will analyze the most current literature and trends regarding sustainable resource management for the 21st century. This paper proposes a framework for the discussion of the economic ramification of various environmental issues facing the MENA Region. It also presents various environmental accounting systems and indicators that may be useful for the MENA Region to implement in order to manage these issues more effectively. Of particular relevance is the establishment of environmental accounts as set forth under the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), which is expected to become an international statistical standard for integrated economic and environmental accounting using concepts, definitions and classifications of the System of National Accounts (SNA). The paper then proposes the Ecological Footprint as an additional tool for resource and ecosystem service accounting. The Ecological Footprint is a resource accounting tool that measures how much productive area it takes to produce what a population consumes and absorb its waste, using prevailing technology. It compares this to the available biocapacity of the world or each country. The paper concludes by recognizing that given the complexity of the concept of sustainable development and measuring what counts for the well-being of both present and future generations, it is evident that robust accounting tools and indicators are needed for the 21st century. While many of these tools already exist and can be found in the SEEA and Ecological Footprint, more analysis is needed on the areas of overlap and potential integration of these two systems.
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