Ecosystem Services, Poverty Alleviation and 2015

20 January, 2015
By Paul van Gardingen, ESPA Director
2015 will be an important year for ESPA, a time to look back and look forward.  ESPA’s challenge since the main programme commenced in 2010 has been to link our understanding of ecosystem services to our understanding of poverty alleviation.  Now, in 2015, after five years of research, we will need to reflect on our progress to date and identify our next steps and challenges.  At the same time as ESPA reflects on what we do next, the same will be true for the global debates relating to both poverty alleviation and ecosystem services.
Fifteen years ago, in September 2000, the leaders of the world gathered for the UN’s General Assembly.  They used that occasion to mark the new Millennium with a declaration that committed that they would “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty”.  This is turn led to the Millennium Development Goals that have framed development activities since then, which includes a target to halve...
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Designing ecosystem-based water management systems for a changing world

15 January, 2015
By Professor Mike Acreman, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Water management has historically focused on resource allocation between domestic supply, food production, generating power and supporting industry, to produce direct benefits to people through economic growth or poverty alleviation. However, many analyses, such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, have highlighted the link between biodiversity, ecosystems and human well-being. These show that providing water for the environment indirectly supports people by maintaining ecosystems and the flow of benefits from them, such as fish, timber and medicinal plants, termed ‘ecosystem services’. Yet the degradation of freshwater ecosystems resulting from direct human use of water is increasing and reaching critical levels.
To address this issue, the idea of environmental flows has been introduced into water management. Environmental flows define the allocation of sufficient water to rivers, wetlands, estuaries and coastal zones to support ecological functions that deliver human well-being. A major principle has been the natural flow regime paradigm, which considers that the natural dynamic character of river flows - magnitude, frequency, duration,...
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