Valuing the Arctic

A Scoping Study exploring the
Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) in the Arctic

As a first step towards mainstreaming Arctic biodiversity and ecosystem services into policy and decision-making processes, the TEEB Scoping study was initiated in 2014 under the lead of the Arctic Council’s working group CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) and in partnership with the TEEB office, UNEP, WWF and GRID Arendal.

For more information:

Courtney Price
Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)

What does the study do?

The study explores at the possibilities of capturing the Arctic’s diverse values beyond today’s market mechanisms. Special attention is given to how the more intangible, yet so important values of this unique region can be made visible. The focus is not on monetary valuation, although this also is part of the approach, but rather how to recognize the importance of the Arctic. Describing and discussing the various view points on what makes the Arctic unique and valuable, in addition to including scientific and traditional knowledge, can be a new way to make people understand what the Arctic means to its inhabitants and the rest of the world.

The study includes input from a variety of people and processes, input from existing studies on natural values in the Arctic, case studies, workshops, and an online survey.

Why do the study?

Decisions are made, both inside and outside the Arctic that affect Arctic nature and people. These include decisions about economic development, land use, climate change, and fisheries or wildlife management. These decisions are often based on economics, or how to protect only certain parts of nature. Other important aspects of the Arctic are sometimes not well understood or considered when these decisions are made. The point of this study is to look at how people in the Arctic and beyond benefit from nature and how decision-making can include a wider range of Arctic values.

The study is called a “scoping study”. This means it does not have final answers about the values of the Arctic, but looks at how those values might be identified and defined in the Arctic. This first step is important because it explores the relationship between people and Arctic nature- how we think about nature, experience it and benefit from it.

What happens next?

There are 2 potential followup options:

  1. A full TEEB study or studies with suggested priority policy areas.
  2. Activities at levels from local to circumpolar that would help people better understand Arctic ecosystem services and their values, and to apply this knowledge to policy.
  3. These options overlap in many ways and could be pursued in parallel or sequentially by different actors, including the Arctic Council.

What is TEEB?

TEEB stands for ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ and is a global initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme. TEEB draws attention to the benefits that people gain from nature – including food, water, enjoyment and raw materials and tries to make the range of benefits more visible when politicians, businesses and others make decisions about the environment.

TEEB looks at what happens when ecosystems are damaged and when plant and animal populations are lost. It provides tools and guidance to people who work on policy so they can recognize and demonstrate the value of ecosystems and biodiversity and so that they can use this knowledge when making policy and business decisions. TEEB studies have also been done in other parts of the world.



The overall effort is through the TEEB Initiative, represented by the UNEP TEEB Office. The TEEB Office provides coordination support and is the main liaison with the TEEB Advisory Board, which is responsible for overall quality control and adherence to TEEB guidelines.



CAFF is the lead for developing the study as an Arctic Council project, and for advancing the written products of the project through the Arctic Council system.


WWF Arctic

The WWF Arctic Programme provides technical expertise, project leadership and financial management.



GRID-Arendal provides expertise and advice in TEEB studies and on Arctic issues.


The UNEP Regional Office for Europe provides support for the project workshop, policy advice, and links to UNEP and other international processes.