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Socio-economic importance of ecosystem services in the Nordic Countries

Synthesis in the context of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)

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Nature provides a range of benefits (ecosystem services) that underpin human and socio-economic well-being. Many of these benefits – and the associated economic values – are not acknowledged in decision-making. As a result, nature remains almost invisible in the political and individual choices made. This report presents a synthesis of the socio-economic importance of ecosystem services in the Nordic countries. The study was initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) and the NCM Finnish Presidency in 2011, following in the footsteps of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative. The study reveals that Nordic ecosystems play an integral role in supporting socio-economic wellbeing. However, a number of gaps in the existing information base still need to be addressed to ensure that these benefits are fully integrated into the Nordic decision-making processes.

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Value of nature and the policy response

There is an urgent need for policies and decision-making processes to take into account the range of different values provided by nature in order to effectively address the increasing – and fundamentally interlinked – concerns for biodiversity loss and human wellbeing. The necessary policy response can be seen to consist of certain key areas of action including 1) improving the way we measure and monitor the status and value of our natural capital and 2) reforming and improving the framework of policy instruments (e.g. regulations and incentives) aimed at sustainably managing our natural capital. With the use of such information and tools it will be possible to ensure that our socio-economic systems (e.g. markets) appropriately integrate the true value of nature, including reflecting the true costs of biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems and their services.

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