Ecosystems and Human Well-being is the first product of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), a four-year international work program designed to meet the needs of decision-makers for scientific information on the links between ecosystem change and human well-being. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and will provide information requested by governments, through four international conventions, as well as meeting needs within the private sector and civil society. Ecosystems and Human Well-being offers an overview of the assessment, describing the conceptual framework that is being used, defining its scope and providing a baseline of understanding that all participants need to move forward.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment focuses on how humans have altered ecosystems, and how changes in ecosystems have affected human well-being. The assessment also evaluates how ecosystem changes may affect people in future decades and what responses can be adopted at local, national, or global scales to improve ecosystem management and thereby contribute to human well-being and poverty alleviation. The assessment was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in June 2001, and the primary assessment reports will be released by Island Press in 2005.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment series is an invaluable new resource for professionals and policy-makers concerned with international development, environmental science, environmental policy, and related fields. It will help both in choosing among existing options and in identifying new approaches for achieving integrated management of land, water, and living resources while strengthening regional, national, and local capacities. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment series will also improve policy and decision-making at all levels by increasing collaboration between natural and social scientists, and between scientists and policy-makers. Ecosystems and Human Well-being is an essential introduction to the program.
Designed by a partnership of UN agencies, international scientific organizations, and development agencies, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is the most extensive study ever of the linkages between the world’s ecosystems and human well-being. The goal of the MA is to establish the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance the contribution of ecosystems to human well-being without undermining their long-term productivity. With contributions by more than 500 scientists from 70 countries, the MA has proven to be one of the most important conservation initiatives ever undertaken, and the ecosystem services paradigm on which it is based provides the standard for practice. This manual supplies the specific tools that practitioners of the paradigm need in order to extend their work into the future.
The manual is a stand-alone “how to” guide to conducting assessments of the impacts on humans of ecosystem changes. In addition, assessment practitioners who are looking for guidance on particular aspects of the assessment process will find individual chapters of this manual to be useful in advancing their understanding of best practices in ecosystem assessment. The manual builds on the experiences and lessons learned from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment global and sub-global assessment initiatives, with chapters written by well-known participants in those initiatives. It also includes insights and experiences gained from a wider range of ecosystem service-focused assessment activities since the completion of the MA in 2005.
Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years than in any comparable period of human history. We have done this to meet the growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. While changes to ecosystems have enhanced the well-being of billions of people, they have also caused a substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth, and have strained the capacity of ecosystems to continue providing critical services.
Among the findings:
Approximately 60% of the services that support life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably. The harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years.
Only four ecosystem services have been enhanced in the last 50 years: crops, livestock, aquaculture, and the sequestration of carbon.
The capacity of ecosystems to neutralize pollutants, protect us from natural disasters, and control the outbreaks of pests and diseases is declining significantly.
Terrestrial and freshwater systems are reaching the limits of their ability to absorb nitrogen.
Harvesting of fish and other resources from coastal and marine systems is compromising their ability to deliver food in the future.
Richly illustrated with maps and graphs, Current State and Trends presents an assessment of Earth's ability to provide twenty-four distinct services essential to human well-being. These include food, fiber, and other materials; the regulation of the climate and fresh water systems; underlying support systems such as nutrient cycling; and the fulfillment of cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic values. The volume pays particular attention to the current health of key ecosystems, including inland waters, forests, oceans, croplands, and dryland systems, among others. It will be an indispensable reference for scientists, environmentalists, agency professionals, and students.
One of the major innovations of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is the incorporation of local and regional assessmentsù33 in allùin a global portrait of the planetÆs health. It is the first global assessment of ecosystems to include not only a diversity of ecosystems, but to draw on a wide range of cultural orientations and intellectual traditions, including those of indigenous peoples.
The Sub-global Assessments Working Group integrated information from multiple sources and found that biophysical factors such as land-use change, climate change and variability, pollution, and invasive species have a significant effect on human well-being across cultures. For example, in places where there are no other social safety nets, diminished human well-being tends to increase immediate dependence on ecosystem services, which can damage the capacity of those local ecosystems, which in turn appears to increase the probability of natural disaster or conflict.
Representing the baseline and framework for ongoing assessments of ecosystem and human well-being on a variety of scales around the world, Multiscale Assessments provides students, researchers, and policy-makers with the most comprehensive methodology for assessing ecosystems at local, national, and regional scales.
Our Human Planet summarizes the findings of the four working groups and serves as a reference guide to the four main volumes in the MA series. It presents the key findings of each of the working groups, and meets the needs of policy makers and other professionals.
The summary also provides an overview of the framework used by the assessment, and will serve as a guide for assessment, planning, and management for the future.
With the knowledge of possible outcomes, what kind of actions should we take? The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment scored 74 response options for dealing with declines in ecosystem services and biodiversity, and managing drivers such as climate change and nutrient loading. This third volume in the MA series analyzes the track record of past policies and the potential of new ones.
The challenge of reversing the degradation of ecosystems while meeting increasing demands for their services can be met only with significant policy and institutional changes. However, a difficult set of obstacles stand in the way. Policy makers must keep in mind that there are both trade-offs and synergies between human well-being, ecosystems, and ecosystem services, and that decisions regarding these tradeoffs are difficult and often contentious. The Responses volume ultimately establishes which policy options have the greatest chance to overcome the obstacles and generate positive outcomes. It will serve as an invaluable guide to the creation of stronger policy frameworks for the future.
Scenarios are an invaluable tool for analyzing complex systems and understanding possible outcomes. This second volume of the MA series explores the implications of four different approaches for managing ecosystem services in the face of growing human demand for them:
The Global Orchestration approach, in which we emphasize equity, economic growth, and public goods, reacting to ecosystem problems when they reach critical stages.
Order from Strength, which emphasizes security and economic growth.
Adapting Mosaic, which emphasizes proactive management of ecosystems, local adaptation, and flexible governance.
TechnoGarden, a globalized approach with an emphasis on green technology and a proactive approach to managing ecosystems.
The Scenarios volume will help decision-makers and managers identify development paths that better maintain the resilience of ecosystems, and can reduce the risk of damage to human well-being and the environment.
Human Well-Being and Economic Goals
Edited by Frank Ackerman, David Kiron, Neva R. Goodwin, Jonathan M. Harris, andKevin P. Gallagher; Foreword by Kenneth Arrow Island Press, 1997 Library of Congress HB98.2.H85 1997 | Dewey Decimal 330.157
What are the ends of economic activity? According to neoclassical theory, efficient interaction of the profit-maximizing "ideal producer" and the utility-maximizing "ideal consumer" will eventually lead to some sort of social optimum. But is that social optimum the same as human well-being? Human Well-Being and Economic Goals addresses that issue, considering such questions as:
Does the maximization of individual welfare really lead to social welfare?
How can we deal with questions of relative welfare and of equity?
How do we define, or at least understand, individual and social welfare?
And how can these things be measured, or even assessed?
Human Well-Being and Economic Goals brings together more than 75 concise summaries of the most significant literature in the field that consider issues of present and future individual and social welfare, national development, consumption, and equity. Like its predecessors in the Frontier Issues in Economic Thought series, it takes a multidisciplinary approach to economic concerns, examining their sociological, philosophical, and psychological aspects and implications as well as their economic underpinnings.
Human Well-Being and Economic Goals provides a powerful introduction to the current and historical writings that examine the concept of human well-being in ways that can help us to set goals for economic activity and judge its success. It is a valuable summary and overview for students, economists, and social scientists concerned with these issues.