The goal of this project is to change how decision makers think about ecosystem services: from protecting ecosystems from development to investing in ecosystems for development.
Public sector decision makers, such as mayors, planning commission members, national legislators, and international development officials, often overlook the connection between healthy ecosystems and the well-being of people. As a result, long term goals may be jeopardized for short term gain. In order to enhance some ecosystem services, other important ecosystem services may be degraded. For example, building a dam can increase power supply to cities and irrigation to croplands, but reduce the river’s capacity to support fisheries and provide shoreline protection. Costs and benefits of these tradeoffs are often inequitably dispersed. The beneficiaries of the increased power supply may live 50 km away while those living on the river will have to bear the cost of decreased fisheries and increased flooding. A recent global study, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, found that nearly 2/3 of ecosystem services are in worse shape than they were 50 years ago. The bottom line of this finding? Nature’s benefits can no longer be taken for granted.
WRI and its partners have produced a guide for the public sector on how to take an Ecosystem Services Approach in economic and social strategies. It provides examples of how projects, plans and policies can benefit from incorporating ecosystem services. It introduces various methods to link ecosystems and development, including an ecosystem services framework, ecosystem service prioritization, trends analyses, ecosystem service mapping, economic valuation, scenario planning, and a portfolio of policy options targeted at sustaining ecosystem services.
WRI is currently focusing on the application of the Ecosystem Services Approach to on-the-ground decision making processes.
- Centro Fueguino para el Desarrollo Sustentable
- Development Alternatives, Inc.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- Kalispel Tribe
- Puget Sound Partnership
- The Nature Conservancy
- United Nations Development Programme
- United Nations Environment Programme
- United Nations Environment Programme—World Conservation Monitoring Centre
- The Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Irish Aid, Government of Ireland
- The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
- Swedish International Biodiversity Programme