Setting the bar: Standards for ecosystem services


Progress in ecosystem service science has been rapid, and there is now a healthy appetite among key public- and private-sector decision makers for this science. However, changing policy and management is a long-term project, one that raises a number of specific practical challenges. One impediment to broad adoption of ecosystem service information is the lack of standards that define terminology, acceptable data and methods, and reporting requirements. Ecosystem service standards should be tailored to specific use contexts, such as national income and wealth accounts, corporate sustainability reporting, land-use planning, and environmental impact assessments. Many standard-setting organizations already exist, and the research community will make the most headway toward rapid uptake of ecosystem service science by working directly with these organizations. Progress has been made in aligning with existing organizations in areas such as product certification and sustainability reporting, but a major challenge remains in mainstreaming ecosystem service information into core public and private use contexts, such as agricultural and energy subsidy design, national income accounts, and corporate accounts.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Stephen Polasky, University of Minnesota
Heather Tallis, The Nature Conservancy
Belinda Reyers, Natural Resources and the Environment, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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