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Arctic Freshwater Natural Capital in the Nordic Countries

image of Arctic Freshwater Natural Capital in the Nordic Countries

Current indicators of economic growth (e.g., GDP) do not adequately consider sustainability, while environmental indicators alone fail to acknowledge the economic needs of a society. Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) can be the tool that fills the gap separating current economic and environmental indicators. Development of NCA has progressed considerably and is being widely deployed in the Nordic countries, but development and deployment remain uneven. This report provides background on NCA and its associated accounting frameworks, demonstrates the applicability of NCA for sustainably utilizing freshwater resources in the Nordic Arctic and provides recommendations for maximizing the value of environmental accounting as an economic, environmental, and sustainable development tool.

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Freshwater resources in the Nordic Arctic: Sectoral demands, pressures, and externalities

Generally speaking, freshwater resources are abundant in the Nordic Arctic. Precipitation is high and water is stored in freshwater bodies such as lakes, groundwater aquifers and glaciers. Water, in its various forms – water, snow and ice, is a valuable asset for many economic sectors. In Finland, both surface and groundwater are used for drinking water production, but groundwater is generally preferred and its use for this purpose is expected to increase. In the Finnish Lapland, however, only groundwater is used. In Iceland, northern Sweden and Denmark, most of the waterworks use groundwater as a water source. On the other hand, Norway and Greenland take most of their drinking water from surface water bodies.

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