Regional conference on ecosystem services stresses poverty alleviation

Kathmandu, March 14

A two-day regional symposium on ‘Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation’ concluded here by discussing effective approaches to ecosystem services governance for poverty alleviation.

Together with the Ministry of Forests and Environment, the workshop was organised by Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Implementation Centre, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and the UK’s Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation programme. The event brought together 80 researchers from South Asia and around the globe.

Secretary at the MoFE Yubak Dhoj GC commended the platform provided by the symposium as a ‘collective response to the common threat to ecosystems – the forests, wetlands, and agriculture areas.’ He said policy interventions, institutional support, and research were key to shaping effective ecosystem services.

ICIMOD’s Director of Strategic Cooperation Basanta Shrestha said, “We need to be able to understand current challenges to ecosystems in order to work towards effective and innovative solutions on the ground, many of which are transboundary in nature. We also need to bring research findings and knowledge into action, and upscale them as development efforts.”

ESPA’s Director Kate Schreckenberg said, “We need better social and ecological assessments of decision-making over natural resources to paint a clear picture of who benefits and who bears the costs of environmental decisions. Trade-offs and any potential human costs must be understood and explicitly addressed through open, just, and democratic processes. The ESPA approach is not easy but it is exciting and offers promise for the future.” The symposium focused on inter-linkages among ecosystems, poverty, and well-being; governance, policy, and institutions; complexity and social change; valuation of ecosystem services; rewarding environmental stewardship; and achieving development impact through research.

Participants also identified key insights and practical tools for managing the complex interactions between changing ecosystems and human migration. According to ICIMOD, South Asia faces the challenge of tackling persistent poverty at a time of rapid and large-scale changes in social, environmental, and economic conditions.