Author: United Nations Environment Programme. Division of Early Warning and Assessment
Publisher: United Nations Publications
This report is a sysnthesis of the findings of the MA on marine and coastal ecosystems, taken from the global and sub-global assessments. This synthesis report sets out to provide answers to a series of questions that all stakeholders not just decision makers may ask : what is at stake, what is the current status of marine and coastal ecosysytems, why should we care if we lose marine and coastal ecosystems, and what can be done to ensure that marine and coastal ecosystems and services are conserved.
This report synthesizes the findings from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) global and sub-global assessments of how ecosystem changes do or could affect human health and well-being. Over the past 50 years humans have changed natural ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than any comparable period in human history. The findings provide the strongest evidence so far of the ways in which pressures on ecosystems have resulted in the loss of vital ecosystem services which purify and replenish water soil and air resources essential to health and also keep many diseases in check. Loss of these ecosystem services in turn affect patterns of communicable and non-communicable disease distribution and transmission. In the future, still-increasing pressures on ecosystems could impact public health in a variety of ways that are unpredictable and potentially severe. Human exploitation of ecosystem services has indeed contributed to substantial net gains in well-being and development across much of the planet. Still not all regions and groups of people have benefited from this process and many have been harmed. Moreover the full costs associated with these gains are only now becoming apparent. Approximately 60% of the ecosystem services examined, from regulation of air quality to purification of water, are being degraded or used unsustainably. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has worked to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and establish the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of those systems so that they can continue to supply the services that underpin all aspects of human life. The assessment exercise has involved more than 1 300 experts worldwide and started in 2001.
Securing Our Common Future by Decoupling Economic Growth from Environmental Pressures
Author: Cheryl Desha
Category: Business & Economics
Cents and Sustainability is a clear-sighted response to the 1987 call by Dr Gro Brundtland in Our Common Future to achieve a new era of economic growth that is 'forceful and at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable'. The Brundtland Report argued that not only was it achievable, but that it was an urgent imperative in order to achieve a transition to sustainable development while significantly reducing poverty and driving 'clean and green' investment. With some still arguing for significantly slowing economic growth in order to reduce pressures on the environment, this new book, Cents and Sustainability, shows that it is possible to reconcile the need for economic growth and environmental sustainability through a strategy to decouple economic growth from environmental pressures, combined with a renewed commitment to achieve significant environmental restoration and poverty reduction. Beginning with a brief overview of some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, the book then explains 'decoupling theory', overviews a number of factors that can undermine and even block efforts to decouple in both developed and developing countries, and then discusses a number of key considerations to assist the development of national 'decoupling strategies'. The book then focuses on presenting evidence to support greater action, not just on climate change, but also on decoupling economic growth from the loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of natural systems, freshwater extraction, waste production, and air pollution. In the lead up to the 2012 United Nations Earth Summit and beyond, Cents and Sustainability will be a crucial guide to inform and assist nations to develop strategies to significantly reduce environmental pressures, strengthen their economy, create jobs and reduce poverty. 'I commend the team from The Natural Edge Project and their partners for undertaking to develop a response to 'Our Common Future' to mark its 20th anniversary.' Dr Gro Brundtland. Sequel to The Natural Advantage of Nations Published with The Natural Edge Project
How can environmental degradation be stopped? How can it be reversed? And how can the damage already done be repaired? The authors of this volume argue that a two-pronged approach is needed: reducing demand for ecosystem goods and services and better management of them, coupled with an increase in supply through environmental restoration. Restoring Natural Capital brings together economists and ecologists, theoreticians, practitioners, policy makers, and scientists from the developed and developing worlds to consider the costs and benefits of repairing ecosystem goods and services in natural and socioecological systems. It examines the business and practice of restoring natural capital, and seeks to establish common ground between economists and ecologists with respect to the restoration of degraded ecosystems and landscapes and the still broader task of restoring natural capital. The book focuses on developing strategies that can achieve the best outcomes in the shortest amount of time as it: • considers conceptual and theoretical issues from both an economic and ecological perspective • examines specific strategies to foster the restoration of natural capital and offers a synthesis and a vision of the way forward Nineteen case studies from around the world illustrate challenges and achievements in setting targets, refining approaches to finding and implementing restoration projects, and using restoration of natural capital as an economic opportunity. Throughout, contributors make the case that the restoration of natural capital requires close collaboration among scientists from across disciplines as well as local people, and when successfully executed represents a practical, realistic, and essential tool for achieving lasting sustainable development.
Coping with Ambivalence, Uncertainty and Distributed Power
Author: Jens Newig
Category: Business & Economics
Sustainable development stirs up debate about the capacities of political steering and governance. The complexity of the task expounds limits of steering in three dimensions: goals, knowledge, and power: Sustainability goals are subject to changing and controversial risk perceptions, values and interests. Moreover, knowledge of the coupled dynamics of society, technology and nature is limited. Finally, the power to shape structural change in society and technology is distributed across a multitude of actors and societal subsystems. Steering attempts therefore have to cope with conflict and ambivalence, with uncertainty, and with a lack of central control; and they have to face the necessity of coordinating different actor groups and social networks. This volume explores steering strategies and governance arrangements for sustainable development with a view to these problem dimensions. The contributions by authors from various disciplines approach these challenges from different conceptual angles, ranging from positivist, managerial up to post-modern, constructivist perspectives. By combining theoretical reflections with insights from empirical research in European and American contexts, the volume maps out conditions and identifies approaches which both reflect the limits of steering and reveal options for constructively taking up the task of sustainable development in science and practice.
Launched in June 2001 and involving more than 1,300 leading scientists from 95 nations, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a ground-breaking study of how humans have altered ecosystems, how changes in ecosystem services affect human well-being, both now and in the future, and what options exist to enhance human well-being while conserving ecosystems. Integrating findings at the local, regional, and global scales and including insights from alternative intellectual traditions, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment offers the first truly comprehensive picture of the health of the planet.
The Wealth of the Poor : Managing Ecosystems to Fight Poverty
Author: World Resources Institute
Publisher: World Resources Inst
Category: Political Science
Ecosystems are - or can be - the wealth of the poor. For many of the 1.1 billion people living in severe poverty, nature has always been a daily lifeline - an asset for those with few other material assets. But programs to reduce poverty often fail to account for the important link between environment and the livelihoods of the poor. of ecosystems - can act as a fundamental stepping stone in the economic integration of the poor. or regain - stable productivity over time. But it also requires that the poor are able to reap the benefits of this good stewardship. Unfortunately, those poverty are rarely in such a position of power over natural resources. An array of governance failures typical intervenes: lack of legal ownership and access to ecosystems, political marginalization, and exclusion from those decisions that affect how these ecosystems are managed. Without addressing these failures, there is little chance of using the economic potential of ecosystems for reducing poverty. ecosystems both wisely and for wealth. Using examples and case studies, the report traces a route to greater environmental income. Working at the cutting edge of sustainable development, it lays out the governance changes necessary to give the poor the legal, financial and management capacity to use nature for wealth creation that does not deplete their fragile resource base. beyond the poverty theme, presenting national statistics and interpretive graphics on current environmental, social, and economic trends in more than 150 countries.