Ecosystem services for policy impacts

Mangrove forest

Reforested Mangrove forest in mangrove biosphere reserve Can Gio. Photo: Alejandro von Bertrab/GIZ

The global project ValuES (Methods for integrating ecosystem services into policy, planning and practice), held its third Asian-African meeting in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam this April. ValuES is financed by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB). Partner projects and counterparts from Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Jordan, Namibia, the Ivory Coast, Togo and Benin participated in this annual event. The objectives of the meeting were to foster the exchange on actions, challenges and lessons learned regarding the integration of ecosystem services into policy and decision-making. Participants were informed about the state of the art concerning discussions about ecosystem services at the international level. Opportunities for peer coaching to improve ongoing initiatives were provided and future joint actions among ValuES and partner initiatives were planned.

“At least three conditions need to be met for ecosystem service assessments and valuations to be effective tools for policy change”, explained Marina Kosmus, the head of the global IKI project ValuES:“They need to be relevant to the problems being addressed, perceived as fair and legitimate on the part of the involved stakeholders, and credible. The last point means that assessments should be scientifically sound but also integrate other knowledge realms, such as local indigenous knowledge, which can be useful for solving problems concerning the impact and dependencies of human activities on ecosystem services.”

Apart from representatives of partner initiatives and counterparts from national environmental agencies and research centres, ValuES invited a range of international experts from the field of ecosystem services. Discussions focussed on issues such as the elements which need to be considered when designing and conducting ecosystem service assessments, like stakeholder participation and appropriate communication, and the ways in which the ecosystem service approach can help to address governance issues in decision-making processes. Additionally, participants had the opportunity to present their own ecosystem service assessment cases and receive advice on which aspects to consider in order to effectively influence policies. At the end of the workshop, participants visited the Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve, an enigmatic 75,000 hectare protected area featuring mangroves, salt marshes and sea grasses. This area was severely impacted during the Vietnam civil war but effectively restored in the post-conflict years. The reserve provides key benefits to local and adjacent population groups, among others storm protection, food sources, and raw materials.

ValuES is a global project and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), GmbH in cooperation with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (CSF) and the Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF).