Back 21.08.2013

Nature has value – decision-makers need to know how much

The Nordic countries are looking for tools for valuating their ecosystems and natural capital to help make sustainable decisions in the future. Gaia and the Institute for European Environmental Policy reviewed the most prominent international approaches for valuating natural capital. The report Natural Capital in a Nordic Context – Status and Challenges in the Decade of Biodiversity was commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Climate change, depletion of natural resources, destruction of natural habitats and introduction of alien species are just a few of the environmental challenges that the Nordic countries face. Linking the value of their natural capital to the economy in a systematic manner is therefore necessary to enable sustainable decision-making in the future.

Gaia and the Institute for European Environmental Policy reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of five international approaches to natural capital accounting. These approaches attempt to link biodiversity and ecosystems on the one hand, and economic and human well being on the other, to enable better decision-making. The assessment was made from a Nordic point of view, taking into account the conditions, policy goals and institutions in the Nordic countries.

All five international schemes approach natural capital accounting from a different angle and each one addresses at least some of the needs expressed by the policy-makers interviewed in the project. However, all of them had their weaknesses as well.

The report states that whichever approach the Nordic countries choose they will need to invest in adapting it to their specific ecosystems and needs. It also suggests that the countries could benefit from cooperation, e.g. by drawing a common roadmap for the future and by sharing experiences and information.

For further information