The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for the Arctic: A Scoping Study.
Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)
The TEEB Arctic scoping study was developed by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna working group (CAFF), with Sweden as the lead country, jointly with the following partners: the UNEP TEEB Office, the UNEP Regional Office for Europe, WWF Global Arctic Programme and GRID-Arendal. This scoping study is an early-implementation pilot project that follows up on specific recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA). A key objective of the scoping study and the options presented in ‘The way forward’ (Chapter 7) is implementation of ABA recommendations, in particular recommendation #4 on incorporating biodiversity objectives and provisions into tools specific to development in the Arctic, and recommendation #12 on evaluating services provided by Arctic biodiversity to support decision making. The project was run and governed through a Steering Group consisting of representatives of the partner organizations. Funding for the project was provided by the Nordic Council of Ministers, UNEP and WWF. The study was conducted mainly in 2014, designed with the aid of a workshop in Reykjavik in May of that year, and informed by 60 responses to an online questionnaire that was active from April to July, 2014. Questionnaire input is included throughout this scoping study report, both in synthesis form and as direct quotes. The scoping study is predominantly based on the TEEB approach and methodology for a scoping study, as outlined in the TEEB guidance manual for country studies1. It differs from this model, however, in two ways: 1) it includes information and discussion related more generally to improving understanding of the full range of Arctic ecosystem services, as well as information and discussion on aspects of governance and of valuing ecosystem services in the context of the circumpolar Arctic and Arctic Council; and 2) it does not conclude with a defined set of specific policies for assessment in a full TEEB study, but rather provides guidance and examples on policy focus areas that could be further refined and assessed using TEEB methodology. These differences are related to the multi-jurisdictional nature of Arctic governance, the diversity of value systems around the Arctic, and to meeting the needs identified by Arctic Council, both through the ABA and through recommendations on implementation of ecosystem-based management in the Arctic. The scoping study evolved over the course of its development from a focus on design of a full TEEB assessment for the Arctic as a single option, to identification of a suite of opportunities for understanding Arctic ecosystem services and raising their profile in decision making. This suite includes applications of TEEB methodology to assessing policy alternatives as well as other initiatives, including development of tools, methodologies and knowledge. These options complement one another but can be initiated separately and with different working group leads within the Arctic Council work agenda. Each option tackles a specific question or issue and contributes to the overall goal of mainstreaming Arctic biodiversity and ecosystems in decision making. Resistance to, or caution about, approaches to policy that focus on valuation of ecosystem services arose throughout the scoping study period, often related to concern about putting prices on aspects of Arctic nature that cannot or should not be priced. A related concern is that monetary valuation would result in turning nature into a commodity and that this would exacerbate existing imbalances between development interests and local people, and/or between Indigenous Peoples and others when it comes to decisions involving trade-offs. The capacity of a TEEB approach to fully account for differences in value systems was questioned, in particular by indigenous contributors to the scoping study. These are important concerns to be brought forward for consideration in all future work in this field. They are not concerns unique to the Arctic, and the TEEB program has recently published a discussion of challenges and responses2. Of primary importance is the understanding that value is not the same as price – the TEEB approach is not about imposing economic valuations in situations where they would be misleading or would not contribute to the goal of making the benefits all people derive from ecosystem services visible in decision making. TEEB studies include participatory approaches to determine the appropriate way to assess ecosystem services, including whether monetary valuation is required or not. Moreover, any exercise in valuation will be subjective and will only represent certain views – the key is to be explicit about these views and to be inclusive of different value and knowledge systems. Guidance on valuation of ecosystems and biodiversity has also been developed through the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. This report presents the results of the scoping study on ecosystem services and the application of a TEEB approach and methodology in the Arctic. The report includes: 1. Results from compiling and synthesizing information, issues, current practices, methodologies and perspectives on Arctic ecosystem services and their values in relation to decision making, 2. List and discussion of policy areas identified during the scoping study for potential follow up using TEEB methodology, 3. Way forward options, including, but not limited to, application of TEEB methodology to policy focus areas, and consideration of options for practical implementation of TEEB at a range of jurisdictional and spatial scales.