Wednesday 7
Environmental Policies, Ecosystem-Services
Stig Wanden
› 11:30 - 12:30 (1h)
› JOFFRE 1-4
What is in it for me? The ecosystem services perspective as currently implemented in Swedish environmental policy and practice.
Sara Borgstrom  1, *@  
1 : Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University  -  Website
* : Corresponding author

In order to handle global change there is a call for integrated approaches that link different world views and bridges different spheres of knowledge. The concept of ecosystem services is one example of such integrated approach. From its scientific origin this theoretical concept is now becoming wide spread and tested in a multitude of challenging practical settings. Along with continued theoretical and methodological advancements within science, the concept is also rapidly adopted by various societal actors, e.g. governments, NGOs, businesses. However, there is a severe lack of studies following this process of practical implementation and its implications for the activities of these actors and for the concept as such. The aim of this study was to examine how the concept of ecosystem services is understood at different societal levels and particularly in relation to land use planning and nature conservation policies. What are the primary motifs for using the concept of ecosystem services? What interventions are used to implement the ecosystem services concept into environmental policy and by whom? What are the benefits and shortcomings related to the use of the ecosystem services concept? Sweden was used as an empirical basis because of its recent governmental initiative of integrating the concept of ES into national level environmental policy framework – the National Environmental Quality Objectives – as well as numerous regional and local initiatives. During 2012-2013 about 40 officials at local, regional and national level authorities working with environmental issues were interviewed. The first round of analysis showed that the actors are generally positive to the concept but that the process of implementation is more fragmented than expected. The most important perceived benefit is the pedagogical power of the concept to explain the importance of nature and re-pack biological diversity into something more selling and thereby potentially break locked positions in decision-making processes. The main shortages mentioned are the high level of abstraction of the concept and the risk of a new concept just being another political trend that soon becomes outdated. The major part of the implementation is expected to take place at local level and particularly within land use planning processes in urbanising regions, however to make this possible there is an urgent need of methodological development. A pressing challenge is to find efficient, simple and low cost tools to assess and valuate ecosystem services to enable incorporation of these values into decision-making processes. For this a close partnership between science and practice is necessary as well as clear roles and frequent communication among all societal actors.


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