Executive Summary

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report boils down the findings of the four working groups into a simple, straightforward description of Earth’s ecological health and its linkages to human well-being. It answers a series of key questions, such as

  • How have ecosystems changed over the past 50 years?
  • What are the most critical factors causing ecosystem damage?
  • What options do we have for better conserving, restoring, and benefiting from ecosystems?

The volume then presents a snapshot of the health and prospects for each of the main services that ecosystems provide, including the provision of food, water, timber, fuel, climate regulation, disease prevention, and others. The Synthesis Report will prove ideal for students and laypersons interested in a quick, but nuanced, understanding of the state of Earth’s ecosystems.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s work is overseen by a 45-member Board of Directors, co-chaired by Robert Watson, Chief Scientist and Senior Advisor for the Environment of the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network of the World Bank, and A.H. Zakri, director of the United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies. The Assessment Panel, which oversees the technical work of the MA, includes 13 of the world’s leading social and natural scientists. It is co-chaired by Angela Cropper of the Cropper Foundation and Harold Mooney of Stanford University. Walter Reid is the director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

“Only by understanding the environment and how it works, can we make the necessary decisions to protect it. Only by valuing all our precious natural and human resources can we hope to build a sustainable future. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is an unprecedented contribution to our global mission for development, sustainability and peace.” -Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations

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 offers the first truly comprehensive picture of the health of the planet.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment books provide an an indispensable baseline of information for researchers, scholars, and students, as well as inform public decision-making for decades to come.