World Resources Institute WRI

Ecosystem services a guide for decision makers

Human well-being utterly depends on nature. Development, defined broadly to encompass social, economic, and environmental aspects of growth, aims to improve human well-being. Despite the inextricable connections, development and nature have frequently been considered in isolation or even in opposition. This guide aims to help decision makers reconcile the two by outlining how an Ecosystems Services Approach can be incorporated into existing decision making processes to strengthen evelopment strategies. It is intended for use by a city mayor; a local planning commission member; a provincial governor; an international development  agency official; or a national minister of finance, energy, water, or environment and those working for them.

Decision makers may be focused on reducing poverty, increasing food production, strengthening resilience to climate change, or producing energy. The development projects and policies intended to meet these goals often go forward unwittingly at the expense of natureā€”a dam to produce electricity reduces fish populations, a national plan to expand agriculture may increase deforestation leading to soil erosion and flooding. Ultimately, the development goals are undermined as the effects of these trade-offs are felt by people who depend on nature for their livelihood and well-being, whether it is fish stocks for food, protection from downstream flooding, or spiritual sustenance.

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