ValuES – Methods for Integrating Ecosystem Services into Policy, Planning and Practice
“ValuES” is a global project that aids decision-makers in its partner countries in recognizing and integrating ecosystem services into policy making, planning and implementation of specific projects. This is done by developing instruments and training courses, providing technical advice and facilitating planning and decision-making processes. ValuES also promotes knowledge-sharing via regional workshops and participation in global discussion forums.
The preservation of biodiversity, ecosystems and their services is essential
Nature is the source of life. Our well-being depends on the benefits we derive from it. Ecosystem services, such as clean water, soil fertility, pollination and protection against erosion or floods are essential for the protection of infrastructure, adaptation to climate change, the production of food and other benefits. Yet in politics and society the value of these services is often not recognized and is therefore frequently neglected. As a result, ecosystems and their services are being degraded worldwide. Their restoration or replacement is expensive or, in many cases, impossible. The concept of ecosystem services, or the benefits people obtain from ecosystems, illustrates both our dependence on nature and the impact of human activities on the environment. The concept thus promotes the implementation of ecosystem-friendly measures and policies. It also aids in systematically including the importance of ecosystems and biodiversity across all sectors of policy and society.
Practical challenges in the application of the concept of ecosystem services
Oftentimes, it is unclear to practitioners how ecosystem service analyses should be designed and how the results should be integrated into political decision-making. For example, how could ecosystem services be included in development planning and how could the zoning of protected areas be adjusted so as to ensure service provision? An array of methods and tools exists for identifying, measuring, valuing and portraying ecosystem services. However, there is insufficient know-how regarding the specific application of findings from ecosystem analyses, their impact and their integration into policies. In addition, it is difficult to access non-technical information regarding methods and tools. Flow of clear information from practitioners to policy makers is very limited.
Objectives and approach of ValuES
ValuES supports practitioners, advisors and decision makers in government and civil society organizations in the integration of ecosystem services into decision-making and planning processes via five key action fields:
1. Analysis of existing experiences
Analyse existing approaches to ecosystem service assessment and valuation. Identify best practice case studies and generate lessons learned.
2. Inventory of methods and tools
Develop an inventory of methods, tools, and indicators to guide practitioners and decision makers in the selection of approaches to integrating ecosystem services into different sectoral and other policies.
3. Advisory services to partner countries
Provide country-specific advisory services to practitioners and decision makers to identify and include the value of ecosystem services in specific policies and projects.
4. Capacity building
Develop and facilitate trainings regarding the selection and application of methods and tools for the as-sessment and valuation of ecosystem services and how to integrate them into decision-making processes.
5. Network support and international exchange
Support exchange via international networks and existing South-South and North-South platforms. Develop and disseminate recommendations related to the design, use and integration into policy making of assessment and valuation methods and tools at international forums.