© UNESCO 2015. All rights reserved. 2.1 INTRODUCTION It has long been held that human life depends on the existence of a finite natural resource base, and that nature contributes to the fulfilment of human needs (Malthus 1888; Meadows et al. 1972). This knowledge has led to different and evolving ways of understanding the relationship between humans and nature (Raymond et al. 2013). The notion of ecosystem services is one of these, which began to be developed in the late 1960s (King 1966; Helliwell 1969; Study of Critical Environmental Problems 1970; Odum and Odum 1972). How human needs and well-being interact with quantities and qualities of the finite natural resource base, and how changes to the natural environment impact on human activities and vice versa, are key questions underlying the conceptual development of ecosystem services and related concepts. In 2000, the Secretary-General of the United Nations called for a worldwide initiative, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, ‘to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human wellbeing and the scientific basis for action needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of those systems’ (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2003). Ecosystem services were defined as ‘the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems’ and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment emphasised the need to incorporate the value of ecosystem services into decision-making to reverse increasing degradation of ecosystems. Since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005, economic approaches to the understanding and management of natural resources based on the notion of ecosystem services have been increasingly discussed in the scientific literature (Fisher et al. 2009; Norgaard 2010; Ojea et al. 2012). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was followed by a number of other initiatives to assess ecosystem services, the most significant global assessment being The Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity (Kumar 2010). Other national-level assessments, for example, the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2011; see Schaafsma et al., this book) and the Spanish Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (EME 2011) have also been published.
|Title of host publication||Water Ecosystem Services: A Global Perspective|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2015|