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Nature provides the conditions for a healthy, secure, and fulfilling existence. Among the many benefits people receive from nature are fresh water, food, protection from floods, and spiritual enrichment. It is hard to think of a development or investment decision that doesn’t in some way depend upon and affect nature.
Launched in June 2001 and involving more than 1,300 leading scientists from 95 nations, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a ground-breaking study on how humans have altered ecosystems, and how changes in ecosystem services affect human well-being, both now and in the future.
Integrating findings at the local, regional, global scales and from alternative intellectual traditions, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment presents a stark account of the mismanagement of these services. Of the 24 ecosystems assessed, only four have shown improvement over the past 50 years. A startling 15 are in serious decline. Five hang in the balance. But we don’t have to continue down this path.
Using the Assessment as its backdrop, Restoring Nature’s Capital proposes an action agenda for business, governments, and civil society to reverse ecosystem degradation.
Drawing on the recommendations of 17 contributing authors, WRI’s own series of World Resources reports, and the good work of many others, it sets out to answer the thorny question of what changes must be made to ensure that ecosystems can meet the needs of today’s and future generations.
The authors contend that governance—who makes decisions, how they are made, and with what information—is at the heart of sustaining healthy ecosystems. With this as their fundamental tenet, the authors present an action agenda for reversing degradation of ecosystems and sustaining their capacity to provide vital services for generations to come. The action agenda identifies how decisions about development projects and investments can be made in ways that lead to healthy ecosystem services. These decisions, made by local and national governments, corporations, and international financial institutions, involve billions of dollars, affect huge swaths of land and water, and affect millions of people.
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