An environment for wellbeing, Pathways out of poverty: Policy messages from the ESPA programme

Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Policy and Practice Brief


The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme is a global, interdisciplinary research programme that aims to give decision-makers and natural resource users the evidence they need for more sustainable ecosystem management and effective poverty reduction. Ecosystem services support human society: covering everything from freshwater flows and soil quality to fisheries productivity and climate regulation – and including cultural and spiritual values.

The Government of the United Kingdom created the ESPA research programme in 2010. It has taken on tough questions, such as: Do ecosystem services provide safety nets for people in poverty? Can ecosystem services help vulnerable people to diversify their livelihood options and security, and to enhance other aspects of their physical and mental wellbeing? How should environmental goods and services be prioritised in development, and how could they contribute to sustainable growth in developing countries and emerging economies? Are there local and regional biophysical limits and thresholds that cannot be avoided and how might they be identified?

Now, eight years on, ESPA’s research is more timely and relevant than ever. As the programme comes to a close in 2018, this report provides the headline messages from ESPA’s research. These messages are for policy-makers and natural resource managers the world over, to support decisions for a fairer, more just world, and a healthier environment for current and future generations.