EU Science Hub

RE: Ecosystem Services are Nature’s Contributions to People


In their article Diaz et al argue the concept of nature's contributions to people (NCP) extends beyond the concept of ecosystem services (ES). However, we believe the introduction of the new term, NCP, will confuse policy makers and practitioners, and plunge the scientific community into semantic paralysis, which risks hampering efforts to include nature and the interests of indigenous peoples into decision making. We argue that by definition ES are the contributions of natural systems to human wellbeing and that the ES agenda has always aimed to be pluralistic and inclusive, recognizing diverse values of nature. (i.e. including the socio-cultural domain). The terms NCP and ES are synonyms and should be used where appropriate for different audiences and purposes. Prominent pieces of the implementation of the ES concept after Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) are overlooked in Diaz et al, including TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) , MAES (Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services) , Natural Capital Coalition , SEEA (System of Environmental Economic Accounts) , and many others. There are thousands of local case studies where ES assessments have helped achieve a more sustainable and inclusive management path. Diaz et al. provide an incomplete picture of the evolution of ES, thereby failing to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The fact that 128 nations, and over 1000 scientists, contribute to IPBES shows the ES concept is already bringing people from diverse disciplines and worldviews together to support nature conservation, ecosystem restoration, and sustainable inclusive development. It’s not ES or NCP, it’s ES and NCP and many other ways of identifying peoples’ dependency on nature. We suggest building on the past, and use what works together, in order to create a common sustainable future.