SYMP 10-1
The demand for ecosystem service metrics on the international stage

Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 8:00 AM
M100EF, Minneapolis Convention Center
Neville Ash, Head, Biodiveristy and Ecosystem Services Branch, UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya
Anne Larigauderie, Executive Director, DIVERSITAS, Paris, France

The demand for ecosystem services metrics has burgeoned over the last decade, in response to a rapidly growing policy interest in the application of the ecosystem services concept. This has been fuelled by growing awareness of the values of ecosystem services through initiatives such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), and most recently through the establishment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).  However, beyond a few provisioning services such as timber and food, for which data are more readily available, the demand for ecosystem services metrics has not been met – in large part because of a lack of reliable and relevant data, but also due to the challenges faced in determining and adopting relevant metrics. Demands from various multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), including the Convention on Biological Diversity and its targets relating to biodiversity and ecosystem services for 2010 and 2020 have resulted in efforts such as the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, and the work of the Group of Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network on essential biodiversity variables.



During 2013, IPBES will develop its initial work programme, building on the requests and suggestions made by various MEAs, governments and other stakeholders. Ecosystem services metrics will be an essential element of its core functions, on knowledge generation, assessment, policy support, and capacity building. Whilst initially the Platform will be dependent on already available metrics to assess changes in ecosystem services, expectations are high that its work programme will advance the development of ecosystem services metrics in order to meet the demands from MEAs, governments and other stakeholders at the national, regional and global scales for better metrics, and for capacity to be built for monitoring ecosystem services. To do so will require the contribution of scientists and other knowledge holders across a wide range of disciplines to ensure that the best possible metrics can be developed in response to this demand.