ESPA Summer School Collateral

This was the one stop shop for all things related to the 2016 Summer School held in New Lanark, Scotland held between 10-16 April .

A personal blog from P4ges researcher Rina about the school and capacity building.

Event Report

This was the first ever ESPA Summer School event. The Summer School aimed to enhance participants understanding of the way that ecosystem services can sustainably enhance the well- being of poor people in developing countries.  There were activities to help participants develop their understanding through acquiring new knowledge, understanding new methods, building development impact and for ESPA Fellows targeted professional development.  The Summer School involved a combination of presentations, group work, workshop sessions and individual activities.


  • To share learning around ESPA’s Impact Strategy and Theory of Change.
  • To provide an opportunity for the next generation of researchers to learn about the ESPA way of delivering research projects.
  • To develop capacity strengthening opportunities for the ESPA Fellows.


The Summer School was designed to meet the needs of early career researchers, both ESPA fellows and non ESPA fellows, as well as some of ESPA’s impact partners. ESPA Fellows had the opportunity to display their posters and discuss with other researchers the key themes that had emerged from their ESPA funded research.

Key Outcomes

  • Attendees discussed mangrove ecosystems as an exemplar of close links between human welfare and ecosystem function and provisioning. The group learnt how ecosystem services provided by coastal forests can be recognised and valued and why their value to population is if often neglected. Discussion took place around the strengths and weaknesses of a valuation approach. Members of the Mikoko Pamoja team shared their experiences with the group.
  • On Monday attendees discussed ESPA’s theory of change and research impact. The benefits, challenges and how the theory of change can be incorporated into projects was addressed.  Attendees were introduced to Sam Mwangi and Raj Patra (ESPA’s Regional Evidence Advisors for Asia and Africa). Communicating research effectively and translating research into policy impact were further key outcomes. Attendees were introduced to the sustainable development goals and learnt how ESPA research could make a contribution to the implementation of these.
  • On Tuesday delegates were introduced to the concept of economic valuation. They discussed the different types of economic valuation, how it is measured and how economic value evidence could be used in decision making processes. Attendees were introduced to randomized controlled trials, why such trials were used and how they measured the social impact of conservation programmes. Pro-poor payments for ecosystem services was another topic discussed. Delegates explored the benefits and critiques of such schemes, how the sustainability of PES schemes can be encouraged through engagements with businesses and used to accelerate local buy in.
  • On Wednesday delegates learnt about complexity science and if such methods have been applied in their research. They discussed the importance of social research methods in the study of ecosystem services and took a close look at survey design and implementation. They were given an insight into Citizen Science and a practical introduction to web based policy support tools. Attendees were introduced to integrative tools and understood what integrated modelling was, the benefits and challenges and the importance of model assessment and validation.
  • Building inclusive urban climate change resilience was a key focus on Thursday. The risks and opportunities of urban expansion, building inclusive urban climate change resilience and ‘concept resilience’ were areas explored. Attendees were introduced to justice in ecosystem management and ESPA’s conceptual framework. A NERC representative provided the group with an overview of their funding opportunities and processes. DFID’s logical framework for monitoring and evaluation was presented to the group.  They discussed why such a framework was used and how they can build a management and evaluation plan into their projects.
  • On Friday and Saturday the ESPA Fellows strengthened their skills in interacting and collaborating meaningfully with others. They were introduced to dialogue and to different patterns of communication. They practised and reflected on their skills in facilitating dialogue. They identified the strategic considerations needed to design and plan effective engagement and collaboration and how these skills might be used in public engagement work.



Featured image courtesy of UNICEF Ethiopia