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Politics for Ecosystems and Biodiversity

natural ecosystemThe Swedish government has decided it's time to put ecosystem services and their value in the spotlight.

A commission, led by Maria Schultz from the Resilience and Development Programme (SwedBio) at Stockholm Resilience Centre, has been appointed to suggest measures to make the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services known in Swedish society at all levels, national, regional and local.

The commission will elaborate on the need for valuation of ecosystem services, not only monetary; the efforts required to enable such valuation; who should do the valuation; the contexts in which evaluation is needed and is relevant; and the type of valuation which is appropriate.

The assignment also includes how to increase the knowledge base around ecosystem services. The commission will put forward measures on how these values can become better known and integrated in any relevant considerations, financial as well as in other contexts.

As of April last year, making ecosystem services commonly known and incorporating them in economic, political and societal decisions was added as a milestone to Sweden's environmental goals, to be fulfilled by 2018. This decision goes back to the Convention of Biological Diversity's Nagoya meeting in 2010. The commission will deliver its report 30 September this year.

Putting knowledge to good use
The concept of ecosystem services is central for research at the Centre and has been increasingly mainstreamed in society during the last years, and recently it merited its own scientific journal. But for many practitioners it may still be an unknown concept.

The idea is to make visible the services that nature provides and that humankind is dependent upon, and might contribute to reconnect and understand our dependence on the biosphere. There is guidance from studies like the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and TEEB, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, and many other contributions from knowledge holders around the world

"But there's a lot of work to do when it comes to implementation. We will during the mission have dialogue with regional and local authorities and other stakeholders to help us find, and validate, key implementation measures," says Maria Schultz.

The bigger picture
By defining the value of ecosystem services in a better way, and integrating these in decision making, the Swedish government believes Sweden will be better equipped for nature conservation and sustainable use of resources.

"It's becoming increasingly apparent that we can't work with the environment as a separate issue. In order to find solutions to the challenges we face now, environmental issues need to be incorporated into other areas. This commission is about making that possible, and using ecosystem services as a concept to help integrate a perspective about the biosphere in various decisions" says Thomas Hahn who is a researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre and also part of the commission, along with Louise Hård af Segerstad from Albaeco and Lars Berg, from the Ministry of Environment.