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Ecosystem Services in Global Sustainability Policies

May 25, 2017 |

This paper was originally published on Elsevier


  • All ecosystem services categories are relevant for the Aichi Targets and the SDGs.
  • There is an information bias towards the supply side of ecosystem services.
  • Information on social behaviour and governance is lacking for ecosystem services flows.
  • Trade-offs caused by unsustainable development will likely remain undetected.
  • IPBES and national statistical bureaus offer an opportunity to improve ecosystem services assessments.

Abstract: Global sustainability policies, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the Aichi Targets, aim to ensure sustainable development, including improved human well-being and the conservation of nature. Although not yet explicitly used to evaluate the progress towards sustainable development, the ecosystem service concept implies a direct link between biodiversity and human well-being. This study explores how and which ecosystem services are currently considered in the SDGs and the Aichi Targets. We also identify which information might be already available for monitoring the progress towards their goals by reviewing national ecosystem assessments. This allows the identification of the main knowledge gaps for monitoring progress towards these global sustainability targets.

There is a wealth of information on all major ecosystem services categories which is directly relevant for the Aichi Targets and the SDGs. The top 25% most cited ecosystem services across both policy documents are: Natural heritage and diversity, Capture fisheries, Aquaculture, Water purification, Crops, Cultural heritage & diversity and Livestock. Most monitoring information recommended for the global sustainability goals, as well as in the information available from national assessments, is biased towards supply related aspects of ecosystem services flows. In contrast, there is much less information on social behaviour, use, demand and governance measures. Indicators are rarely available for all aspects of a specific ecosystem service.

The national statistical bureaus currently in charge of providing observations for reporting on SDGs, could be well placed to address this bias, by integrating ecological observations with socio-economic statistics into socio-ecological indicators for ecosystem services flows. IPBES can potentially address the gaps identified in this paper by improving coverage of the different dimensions of ecosystem services flows…”

Read on at: Elsevier.


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