3c. Ecosystem Services

Track chairs:

Joachim H. Spangenberg. Sustainable Europe Research Institute SERI Germany e.V., Germany. Joachim.Spangenberg@seri.de

Zsuzsanna Marjainé Szerényi. Institute of Geography, Geoeconomy and Sustainable Development, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary. zsuzsanna.szerenyi@uni-corvinus.hu

Goals and objectives of the track:

A dispute has emerged between researchers in the field regarding their conceptual framing: ecosystem services (ESS) or Nature's contributions to People (NCP), the latter proposed by IPBES. While ESS researchers have declared the terminology change to be unnecessary and counterproductive, NCP protagonists have claimed to have a superior approach. As this dispute is unhelpful for the shared objective of safeguarding biodiversity and its contributions to human well-being, it is urgent to identify the common ground and discuss how the two framings can be used in a complementary fashion, strengthening past efforts.

Secondly, one of the emerging challenges is the question if large-scale energy generation from biomass with subsequent carbon capture and storage (BECCS) as promoted by the IPCC in its October 2018 report on how to limit global warming to 1.5° is an acceptable option from a biodiversity point of view. The strategy promoted accepts a (temporary) overshoot of global warming, and trusts in reversibility, i.e. stabilising the Earth System by negative emissions mostly from BECCS in the second half of the century.

Thirdly, the first Global Assessment of IPBES has called for systemic change, highlighting the need to go beyond economic valuation and instruments and taking a wide variety of value systems into account. This refers not only to indigenous values, but also to other non-European (and US) traditions of thought. In Nanjing, particular emphasis could be given to Chinese and other Asian philosophies and value traditions, and how they could contribute to making the conservation of biodiversity, its services and contributions a decisive factor in international policy making.

Consequently, papers would be particularly (but not exclusively) welcome referring to the conference motto "Sustaining Resources for the Future", and dealing with questions such as

  • What is the common core of ESS and NCP, and how can both concepts be made complementary? Which value systems do support which framing?
  • Is the interaction of ESS and ecosystem disservices properly taken into account in the ESS research, or can the NCP concept help closing a gap?
  • Under which circumstance are changes in biodiversity and ESS/NCP provision reversible, what are the limit´s in terms of duration and temperature, and what does that imply for the IPCC's BECCS proposals?
  • Why has valuation mostly failed to impress politics? What should be measured, and how, in order to change that? How should valuation results be presented, and to whom?
  • Which non-monetary valuation methods and assessment tools have stood the test of reality, and how successful have they been? Can they provide the evidence needed as a basis for decisions? Can experiences from local cases be generalised, and if so, how?
  • As the very definition of what is an ESS influences who gains and who loses, and as the definition needs to be standardised if protection is to be legislated, who should decide what is an ESS/NCP? Does the scientific competence count, or the legitimacy of democratic authorities?