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Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Living Beyond Our Means

Natural Assets and Human Well Being (Statement from the Board)

The statement from the Board identifies 10 key messages and conclusions that can be drawn from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Executive Summary

This statement was developed by the Board governing the MA process, whose membership includes representatives from U.N. organizations, governments through a number of international conventions, nongovernmental organizations, academia, business, and indigenous peoples.

The statement from the Board identifies 10 key messages and conclusions that can be drawn from the assessment:

  • Everyone in the world depends on nature and ecosystem services to provide the conditions for a decent, healthy, and secure life.
  • Humans have made unprecedented changes to ecosystems in recent decades to meet growing demands for food, fresh water, fiber, and energy.
  • These changes have helped to improve the lives of billions, but at the same time they weakened nature’s ability to deliver other key services such as purification of air and water, protection from disasters, and the provision of medicines.
  • Among the outstanding problems identified by this assessment are the dire state of many of the world’s fish stocks; the intense vulnerability of the 2 billion people living in dry regions to the loss of ecosystem services, including water supply; and the growing threat to ecosystems from climate change and nutrient pollution.
  • Human activities have taken the planet to the edge of a massive wave of species extinctions, further threatening our own well-being.
  • The loss of services derived from ecosystems is a significant barrier to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty, hunger, and disease.
  • The pressures on ecosystems will increase globally in coming decades unless human attitudes and actions change.
  • Measures to conserve natural resources are more likely to succeed if local communities are given ownership of them, share the benefits, and are involved in decisions.
  • Even today’s technology and knowledge can reduce considerably the human impact on ecosystems. They are unlikely to be deployed fully, however, until ecosystem services cease to be perceived as free and limitless, and their full value is taken into account.
  • Better protection of natural assets will require coordinated efforts across all sections of governments, businesses, and international institutions. The productivity of ecosystems depends on policy choices on investment, trade, subsidy, taxation, and regulation, among others.

Errata

  • In the pre-print draft of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Board Statement on on page 8, line 2 and page 11, line 11, the sentence: "Since 1945, more land such as forest, savanna, and natural grassland has been converted for the growing of crops than in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries combined" should read: "Between 1950 and 1980, more land such as forest, savanna, and natural grassland has been converted for the growing of crops than in the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries combined."

Authors and Acknowledgments

The Board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment represents the users and audiences for the findings of the MA and helps to ensure that the MA will produce information and build capacity needed by the users of the Assessment at local, national, regional, and global scales. The Board also appoints the Director and the chairs of the Assessment Panel and Working Groups, approves the budget and workplan, selects the institutions that will provide administrative support, and will ultimately receive and approve the findings of the Assessment. The Board is comprised of individuals representing specific institutions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, and other individuals selected in their personal capacity as representatives of government, scientific communities, the private sector and NGOs. The Board met for the first time in July 2000 in Trondheim, Norway and met annually during the course of the Assessment.

Board Co-Chairs

  • A.H. Zakri, Director, Institute of Advanced Studies, United Nations University
  • Robert Watson, Chief Scientist and Senior Advisor ESSD, World Bank

Institutional Representatives

  • Salvatore Arico, Programme Officer, Division of Ecological Science, UNESCO
  • Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
  • Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary, UNCCD
  • Adel El-Beltagy, Director General, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, CGIAR
  • C. Max Finlayson, Chair, Science and Technical Review Panel, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
  • Colin Galbraith, Chair, Scientific Council, CMS
  • Erica Harms, Senior Program Officer for Biodiversity, United Nations Foundation
  • Robert Hepworth, Acting Executive Secretary, CMS
  • Olav Kjørven, Director, Sustainable Energy and Environment Division, UNDP
  • Kerstin Leitner, Assistant Director-General, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, WHO
  • Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, SBSTTA Chair (outgoing), CBD
  • Christian Prip, SBSTTA Chair (incoming), CBD
  • Mario Ramos, Biodiversity Program Manager, Global Environment Facility
  • Thomas Rosswall, Director, International Council for Science - ICSU
  • Achim Steiner, Director General, IUCN-World Conservation Union
  • Halldor Thorgeirsson, Coordinator, Methods, Inventories and Science Program, UNFCCC
  • Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, UNEP
  • Jeff Tschirley, Chief, Environmental Service, Research, and Training Division, FAO
  • Riccardo Valentini, Chair, Committee on Science and Technology, UNCCD
  • Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary, CBD

Members At-Large

  • Fernando Almeida, Executive President, Business Council for Sustainable Development, Brazil
  • Phoebe Barnard, Global Invasive Species Programme, National Botanical Institute, South Africa
  • Gordana Beltram, Undersecretary, Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenia
  • Delmar Blasco, Former Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Spain
  • Antony Burgmans, Chairman, Unilever N.V., The Netherlands
  • Esther Camac, Asociación Ixä Ca Vaá de Desarrollo e Información Indigena, Costa Rica
  • Angela Cropper, President, The Cropper Foundation, Trinidad & Tobago
  • Partha Dasgupta, Professor, Faculty of Economics and Politics, University of Cambridge, UK
  • José María Figueres, Managing Director, Center for Global Agenda, World Economic Forum, Switzerland
  • Fred Fortier, Indigenous Peoples\' Biodiversity Information Network, Canada
  • Mohammed Hassan, Executive Director, Third World Academy of Sciences, Italy
  • Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute, USA
  • Wangari Maathai, Vice Minister for Environment, Kenya
  • Paul Maro, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Harold Mooney, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, USA
  • Marina Motovilova, Professor, Faculty of Geography, M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
  • M.K. Prasad, Environment Centre of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, India
  • Walter V. Reid, Director, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (ex officio), Malaysia and USA
  • Henry Schacht, Past Chairman of the Board, Lucent Technologies, USA
  • Peter Johan Schei, Director, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway
  • Ismail Serageldin, President, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt
  • David Suzuki, Chair, David Suzuki Foundation, Canada
  • M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, India
  • José Galízia Tundisi, President, International Institute of Ecology, Brazil
  • Axel Wenblad, Vice President Environmental Affairs, Skanska AB, Sweden
  • Xu Guanhua, Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, China
  • Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh

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