Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis - A Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Reid, W. V., Mooney, H. A., Cropper, A., Capistrano, D., Carpenter, S. R., Chopra, K., Dasgupta, P., Dietz, T., Duraiappah, A. K., Hassan, R., Kasperson, R., Leemans, R., May, R. M., McMichael, T. A. J., Pingali, P., Samper, C., Scholes, R., Watson, R. T., Zakri, A. H., Shidong, Z., Ash, N. J., Bennett, E., Kumar, P., Lee, M. J., Raudsepp-Hearne, C., Simons, H., Thonell, J., & Zurek, M. B. Island Press.
Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis - A Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment [link]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
[Excerpt] Everyone in the world depends completely on Earth's ecosystems and the services they provide, such as food, water, disease management, climate regulation, spiritual fulfillment, and aesthetic enjoyment. Over the past 50 years, humans have changed these ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. This transformation of the planet has contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development. But not all regions and groups of people have benefited from this process – in fact, many have been harmed. Moreover, the full costs associated with these gains are only now becoming apparent. [\n] Three major problems associated with our management of the world's ecosystems are already causing significant harm to some people, particularly the poor, and unless addressed will substantially diminish the long-term benefits we obtain from ecosystems: [::] First, approximately 60\,% (15 out of 24) of the ecosystem services examined during the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment are being degraded or used unsustainably, including fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water purification, and the regulation of regional and local climate, natural hazards, and pests. The full costs of the loss and degradation of these ecosystem services are difficult to measure, but the available evidence demonstrates that they are substantial and growing. Many ecosystem services have been degraded as a consequence of actions taken to increase the supply of other services, such as food. These trade-offs often shift the costs of degradation from one group of people to another or defer costs to future generations. [::] Second, there is established but incomplete evidence that changes being made in ecosystems are increasing the likelihood of nonlinear changes in ecosystems (including accelerating, abrupt, and potentially irreversible changes) that have important consequences for human well-being. Examples of such changes include disease emergence, abrupt alterations in water quality, the creation of ” dead zones” in coastal waters, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate. [::] Third, the harmful effects of the degradation of ecosystem services (the persistent decrease in the capacity of an ecosystem to deliver services) are being borne disproportionately by the poor, are contributing to growing inequities and disparities across groups of people, and are sometimes the principal factor causing poverty and social conflict. This is not to say that ecosystem changes such as increased food production have not also helped to lift many people out of poverty or hunger, but these changes have harmed other individuals and communities, and their plight has been largely overlooked. In all regions, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the condition and management of ecosystem services is a dominant factor influencing prospects for reducing poverty. [\n] The degradation of ecosystem services is already a significant barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the international community in September 2000 and the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. The consumption of ecosystem services, which is unsustainable in many cases, will continue to grow as a consequence of a likely three- to sixfold increase in global GDP by 2050 even while global population growth is expected to slow and level off in mid-century. Most of the important direct drivers of ecosystem change are unlikely to diminish in the first half of the century and two drivers – climate change and excessive nutrient loading – will become more severe. [\n] Already, many of the regions facing the greatest challenges in achieving the MDGs coincide with those facing significant problems of ecosystem degradation. Rural poor people, a primary target of the MDGs, tend to be most directly reliant on ecosystem services and most vulnerable to changes in those services. More generally, any progress achieved in addressing the MDGs of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental sustainability is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem services on which humanity relies continue to be degraded. In contrast, the sound management of ecosystem services provides cost-effective opportunities for addressing multiple development goals in a synergistic manner. [\n] There is no simple fix to these problems since they arise from the interaction of many recognized challenges, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation, each of which is complex to address in its own right. Past actions to slow or reverse the degradation of ecosystems have yielded significant benefits, but these improvements have generally not kept pace with growing pressures and demands. Nevertheless, there is tremendous scope for action to reduce the severity of these problems in the coming decades. Indeed, three of four detailed scenarios examined by the MA suggest that significant changes in policies, institutions, and practices can mitigate some but not all of the negative consequences of growing pressures on ecosystems. But the changes required are substantial and are not currently under way. [\n] An effective set of responses to ensure the sustainable management of ecosystems requires substantial changes in institutions and governance, economic policies and incentives, social and behavior factors, technology, and knowledge. Actions such as the integration of ecosystem management goals in various sectors (such as agriculture, forestry, finance, trade, and health), increased transparency and accountability of government and private-sector performance in ecosystem management, elimination of perverse subsidies, greater use of economic instruments and market-based approaches, empowerment of groups dependent on ecosystem services or affected by their degradation, promotion of technologies enabling increased crop yields without harmful environmental impacts, ecosystem restoration, and the incorporation of nonmarket values of ecosystems and their services in management decisions all could substantially lessen the severity of these problems in the next several decades. [...] [Four Main Findings] [::] Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth. [::] The changes that have been made to ecosystems have contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development, but these gains have been achieved at growing costs in the form of the degradation of many ecosystem services, increased risks of nonlinear changes, and the exacerbation of poverty for some groups of people. These problems, unless addressed, will substantially diminish the benefits that future generations obtain from ecosystems. [::] The degradation of ecosystem services could grow significantly worse during the first half of this century and is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. [::] The challenge of reversing the degradation of ecosystems while meeting increasing demands for their services can be partially met under some scenarios that the MA has considered, but these involve significant changes in policies, institutions, and practices that are not currently under way. Many options exist to conserve or enhance specific ecosystem services in ways that reduce negative trade-offs or that provide positive synergies with other ecosystem services.
@book{reidEcosystemsHumanWellbeing2005,
  title = {Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis - {{A Report}} of the {{Millennium Ecosystem Assessment}}},
  author = {Reid, Walter V. and Mooney, Harold A. and Cropper, Angela and Capistrano, Doris and Carpenter, Stephen R. and Chopra, Kanchan and Dasgupta, Partha and Dietz, Thomas and Duraiappah, Anantha K. and Hassan, Rashid and Kasperson, Roger and Leemans, Rik and May, Robert M. and McMichael, Tony A. J. and Pingali, Prabhu and Samper, Cristián and Scholes, Robert and Watson, Robert T. and Zakri, A. H. and Shidong, Zhao and Ash, Neville J. and Bennett, Elena and Kumar, Pushpam and Lee, Marcus J. and Raudsepp-Hearne, Ciara and Simons, Henk and Thonell, Jillian and Zurek, Monika B.},
  date = {2005},
  publisher = {{Island Press}},
  location = {{Washington, DC, US}},
  url = {http://mfkp.org/INRMM/article/13887487},
  abstract = {[Excerpt] Everyone in the world depends completely on Earth's ecosystems and the services they provide, such as food, water, disease management, climate regulation, spiritual fulfillment, and aesthetic enjoyment. Over the past 50 years, humans have changed these ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. This transformation of the planet has contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development. But not all regions and groups of people have benefited from this process -- in fact, many have been harmed. Moreover, the full costs associated with these gains are only now becoming apparent.

[\textbackslash n] Three major problems associated with our management of the world's ecosystems are already causing significant harm to some people, particularly the poor, and unless addressed will substantially diminish the long-term benefits we obtain from ecosystems: [::] First, approximately 60\,\% (15 out of 24) of the ecosystem services examined during the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment are being degraded or used unsustainably, including fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water purification, and the regulation of regional and local climate, natural hazards, and pests. The full costs of the loss and degradation of these ecosystem services are difficult to measure, but the available evidence demonstrates that they are substantial and growing. Many ecosystem services have been degraded as a consequence of actions taken to increase the supply of other services, such as food. These trade-offs often shift the costs of degradation from one group of people to another or defer costs to future generations. [::] Second, there is established but incomplete evidence that changes being made in ecosystems are increasing the likelihood of nonlinear changes in ecosystems (including accelerating, abrupt, and potentially irreversible changes) that have important consequences for human well-being. Examples of such changes include disease emergence, abrupt alterations in water quality, the creation of ” dead zones” in coastal waters, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate. [::] Third, the harmful effects of the degradation of ecosystem services (the persistent decrease in the capacity of an ecosystem to deliver services) are being borne disproportionately by the poor, are contributing to growing inequities and disparities across groups of people, and are sometimes the principal factor causing poverty and social conflict. This is not to say that ecosystem changes such as increased food production have not also helped to lift many people out of poverty or hunger, but these changes have harmed other individuals and communities, and their plight has been largely overlooked. In all regions, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the condition and management of ecosystem services is a dominant factor influencing prospects for reducing poverty.

[\textbackslash n] The degradation of ecosystem services is already a significant barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the international community in September 2000 and the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. The consumption of ecosystem services, which is unsustainable in many cases, will continue to grow as a consequence of a likely three- to sixfold increase in global GDP by 2050 even while global population growth is expected to slow and level off in mid-century. Most of the important direct drivers of ecosystem change are unlikely to diminish in the first half of the century and two drivers -- climate change and excessive nutrient loading -- will become more severe.

[\textbackslash n] Already, many of the regions facing the greatest challenges in achieving the MDGs coincide with those facing significant problems of ecosystem degradation. Rural poor people, a primary target of the MDGs, tend to be most directly reliant on ecosystem services and most vulnerable to changes in those services. More generally, any progress achieved in addressing the MDGs of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental sustainability is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem services on which humanity relies continue to be degraded. In contrast, the sound management of ecosystem services provides cost-effective opportunities for addressing multiple development goals in a synergistic manner.

[\textbackslash n] There is no simple fix to these problems since they arise from the interaction of many recognized challenges, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation, each of which is complex to address in its own right. Past actions to slow or reverse the degradation of ecosystems have yielded significant benefits, but these improvements have generally not kept pace with growing pressures and demands. Nevertheless, there is tremendous scope for action to reduce the severity of these problems in the coming decades. Indeed, three of four detailed scenarios examined by the MA suggest that significant changes in policies, institutions, and practices can mitigate some but not all of the negative consequences of growing pressures on ecosystems. But the changes required are substantial and are not currently under way.

[\textbackslash n] An effective set of responses to ensure the sustainable management of ecosystems requires substantial changes in institutions and governance, economic policies and incentives, social and behavior factors, technology, and knowledge. Actions such as the integration of ecosystem management goals in various sectors (such as agriculture, forestry, finance, trade, and health), increased transparency and accountability of government and private-sector performance in ecosystem management, elimination of perverse subsidies, greater use of economic instruments and market-based approaches, empowerment of groups dependent on ecosystem services or affected by their degradation, promotion of technologies enabling increased crop yields without harmful environmental impacts, ecosystem restoration, and the incorporation of nonmarket values of ecosystems and their services in management decisions all could substantially lessen the severity of these problems in the next several decades. [...]

[Four Main Findings] [::] Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth. [::] The changes that have been made to ecosystems have contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development, but these gains have been achieved at growing costs in the form of the degradation of many ecosystem services, increased risks of nonlinear changes, and the exacerbation of poverty for some groups of people. These problems, unless addressed, will substantially diminish the benefits that future generations obtain from ecosystems. [::] The degradation of ecosystem services could grow significantly worse during the first half of this century and is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. [::] The challenge of reversing the degradation of ecosystems while meeting increasing demands for their services can be partially met under some scenarios that the MA has considered, but these involve significant changes in policies, institutions, and practices that are not currently under way. Many options exist to conserve or enhance specific ecosystem services in ways that reduce negative trade-offs or that provide positive synergies with other ecosystem services.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-13887487,agricultural-resources,climate-change,ecosystem,ecosystem-resilience,ecosystem-services,featured-publication,forest-resources,global-change,global-scale,millennium-ecosystem-assessment,soil-resources,water-resources}
}
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