Ecosystem Services Partnership welcomes businesses to next conference

The Ecosystem Services Partnership plans to build closer links with business communities and establish joint working groups for its conference in Costa Rica next year, says Leony Aurora

 

The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), which is a global network of environmental research organisations, will develop working groups for specific industries, such as eco-tourism, pharmaceuticals, oil palm and forestry, said Dr Rudolf de Groot, co-chair of the network organization and associate professor at Wageningen University. He was speaking at the closing of the Annual International ESP Conference in Bali, Indonesia, 26–30 August 2013.

Sekar Bumi, Bali, eco-tourism, ecotourism, agroforestry, flowers

Sekar Bumi is an organic, agroforestry flower farm in Bali, Indonesia, with a large eco-tourism component

‘If you are honest and calculate all the externalities, including environmental costs, many of these sectors or industries have negative balance. So we really want to engage them, talk about that, and promote change’, said de Groot. ‘We’d like to have representatives from the science side, policy and business to have a dialogue within these working groups’, he added.

About 350 experts on ecosystem services gathered in Bali for the ESP’s annual conference, themed ‘Making ecosystems count!’. More than 50 sessions of presentations and discussions were conducted — many in parallel — to accommodate the huge interest in sharing research results and lessons learned from field studies.

‘We hope you would give us your expertise; we need that for policy making and decision making. Your inputs are very important for us to help the communities, to empower people’, Cecille Egnar of the Bukidnon local government in the Philippines, told conference participants. ‘We have to bridge the science, policy and the local domains.’

ESP is also considering holding special sessions at next year’s conference, where experts will identify problems and use their knowledge and research results to come up with specific recommendations to deal with them, said de Groot.

Costa Rica, where the conference will be held, has been a pioneer in developing legal frameworks to implement payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes. Its Pago por Servicios Ambientales (PSA) program, for example, has protected about 250 000 ha of forests. The conference is expected to contribute to the discussions around PES, which has created controversies in Latin American countries, partly owing to the use of strict market-based mechanisms to ensure efficiency.

Countries implementing PES should look at a different way, namely ‘co-investment’, where stakeholders are invited to pool various types of capital, including financial, land, social and cultural to attain a common goal that all had agreed on, said Meine van Noordwijk, leader of a global research project on environmental services for the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). A decade of research conducted by ICRAF and partners in Asia might bring success to PES implementation.

The 6th Annual International ESP Conference in Bali was organized by ESP and convened by ICRAF and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, in collaboration with partners including the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification’s Global Mechanism and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

 

Edited by Robert Finlayson

 

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The conference was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry‘s component on landscape management for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods

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Rob Finlayson

Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist and currently interim head of communications global. In his role as regional communications specialist, as well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the four countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization. As interim head of communications, Rob manages communications staff in Latin America, Africa and Asia and is overseeing implementation of ICRAF's Global Communications Group restructure.

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