CICES Version 5.1

News V5.1 Update

It has now been five years since Version 5.1 was released and during that period it has also been widely used internationally. More than 1000 papers in the scientific literature cite the Classification since 2018, and a number have made detailed comments on its structure and scope. The aim of the revision is therefore to build on this experience and ensure that CICES continues to be relevant and usable by both the science and  policy communities. The revision will be available in 2023.

It is not anticipated that there will be major changes to the structure and scope of V5.1; the revision provides the opportunity to clarify class definitions, cover some gaps and extend the associated guidance.

The EEA is the custodian agency for CICES in the United Nations’ inventory of international classifications.

The revision is being led by Fabis Consulting Ltd. If you have any recent or current work that might be relevant then we would be grateful if you could highlight this for us. Similarly if you are aware of any up-coming opportunities to consult with you or your organisation, we would be happy to try to build this into our work. Our contact details are here.

Despite the on-going revision CICES 5.1 remains active and relevant. The update will provide a simple cross reference to earlier versions so that consistency of references between versions can be maintained.

A draft version of V5.2 can be found here, and the draft guidance here. If you have any comments please send them by 1st October 2023. Our contact details are here.


CICES V5.1 which updates and extends V4.3 can be downloaded here.

See revision highlights for an overview of the changes from V4.3 to 1.5

The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) developed from the work on environmental accounting undertaken by the European Environment Agency (EEA). It supports their contribution to the revision of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) which is currently being led by the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD).

The idea of a common international classification is an important one, because it was recognised that if ecosystem accounting methods were to be developed and comparisons made, then some standardisation in the way we describe ecosystem services was needed. Standardisation was seen as especially important where the link to economic accounting has to be made. Since the original proposal interest in CICES has grown. It has now become clear that in addition to the need for standardization in the context of environmental accounting, work on mapping and valuing ecosystem services and ecosystems assessments more generally would benefit from more systematic approaches to naming and describing ecosystem services.

The first fully operational version CICES (V4.3) was published in 2013. On the basis of the experience gained since then by the user community, its structure and scope has been reviewed, and a fully revised version (V5.1) is now available.

The work on ‘Version 5.1’ was informed by a review of the relevant scientific literature, the results of the 2016 Survey conducted by Fabis Consulting Ltd. for the EEA, and workshops held in 2016 as part of the EU-funded ESMERALDA and OpenNESS Projects. Key inputs were also provided from the experience of using CICES gained in the EU-led work on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES).

The revision has also been shaped by discussion at a meeting hosted by the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), in New York, in June 2016 as part of their work on developing the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA). This work with the UNSD led to a further meeting in Wageningen, in November 2016, co-organised between the EEA, US-EPA and UNSD. The resulting final draft for CICES ‘Version 5’ was circulated to members of the EU KIP INCA project, and international experts attending the:

As a result of this extensive period of consultation and peer review CICES V5.1 is now available.

Guidance on the new version is available on this website. The revision has ensured that new version is consistent with but extends CICES V4.3. The two versions are fully cross referenced and consistent with SEEA Principles.


If you would like to receive information about the development of CICES please register here

Register for updates