Environmental accounts bring together economic and environmental information in a common framework to measure the contribution of the environment to the economy and the impact of the economy on the environment. They enable governments to set priorities, monitor economic policies more precisely, enact more effective environmental regulations and resource management strategies, and design more efficient market instruments for environmental policies. This article uses examples from the regional environmental accounting programme in southern Africa to demonstrate the usefulness of environmental accounts to policy-making and natural resource management. The examples address the contribution of natural capital endowments (minerals and fisheries) to sustainable development in Botswana and Namibia; the economic importance of non-market forest goods and services in South Africa; and the socio-economic impact of current water allocation and pricing policies in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. While there are many additional policy applications, these few provide a powerful argument for the use of environmental accounts in all countries.