The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was called for by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000 in his report to the UN General Assembly, We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century. Governments subsequently supported the establishment of the assessment through decisions taken by three international conventions, and the MA was initiated in 2001. The MA was conducted under the auspices of the United Nations, with the secretariat coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme, and it was governed by a multistakeholder board that included representatives of international institutions, governments, business, NGOs, and indigenous peoples. The objective of the MA was to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and to establish the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and their contributions to human well-being.
This report presents a synthesis and integration of the findings of the four MA Working Groups (Condition and Trends, Scenarios, Responses, and Sub-global Assessments). It does not, however, provide a comprehensive summary of each Working Group report, and readers are encouraged to also review the findings of these separately. This synthesis is organized around the core questions originally posed to the assessment: How have ecosystems and their services changed? What has caused these changes? How have these changes affected human well-being? How might ecosystems change in the future and what are the implications for human well-being? And what options exist to enhance the conservation of ecosystems and their contribution to human well-being?
This assessment would not have been possible without the extraordinary commitment of the more than 2,000 authors and reviewers worldwide who contributed their knowledge, creativity, time, and enthusiasm to this process. We would like to express our gratitude to the members of the MA Assessment Panel, Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors, Contributing Authors, Board of Review Editors, and Expert Reviewers who contributed to this process, and we wish to acknowledge the in-kind support of their institutions, which enabled their participation. (The list of reviewers is available at www.MAweb.org.) We also thank the members of the synthesis teams and the synthesis team co-chairs: Zafar Adeel, Carlos Corvalan, Rebecca D’Cruz, Nick Davidson, Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, C. Max Finlayson, Simon Hales, Jane Lubchenco, Anthony McMichael, Shahid Naeem, David Niemeijer, Steve Percy, Uriel Safriel, and Robin White.
We would like to thank the host organizations of the MA Technical Support Units—WorldFish Center (Malaysia); UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (United Kingdom); Institute of Economic Growth (India); National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (Netherlands); University of Pretoria (South Africa), U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization; World Resources Institute, Meridian Institute, and Center for Limnology of the University of Wisconsin (all in the United States); Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (France); and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (Mexico)—for the support they provided to the process. The Scenarios Working Group was established as a joint project of the MA and the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, and we thank SCOPE for the scientific input and oversight that it provided.
We thank the members of the MA Board (listed earlier) for the guidance and oversight they provided to this process and we also thank the current and previous Board Alternates: Ivar Baste, Jeroen Bordewijk, David Cooper, Carlos Corvalan, Nick Davidson, Lyle Glowka, Guo Risheng, Ju Hongbo, Ju Jin, Kagumaho (Bob) Kakuyo, Melinda Kimble, Kanta Kumari, Stephen Lonergan, Charles Ian McNeill, Joseph Kalemani Mulongoy, Ndegwa Ndiang’ui, and Mohamed Maged Younes. The contributions of past members of the MA Board were instrumental in shaping the MA focus and process and these individuals include Philbert Brown, Gisbert Glaser, He Changchui, Richard Helmer, Yolanda Kakabadse, Yoriko Kawaguchi, Ann Kern, Roberto Lenton, Corinne Lepage, Hubert Markl, Arnulf Müller- Helbrecht, Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Seema Paul, Susan Pineda Mercado, Jan Plesnik, Peter Raven, Cristián Samper, Ola Smith, Dennis Tirpak, Alvaro Umaña, and Meryl Williams. We wish to also thank the members of the Exploratory Steering Committee that designed the MA project in 1999–2000. This group included a number of the current and past Board members, as well as Edward Ayensu, Daniel Claasen, Mark Collins, Andrew Dearing, Louise Fresco, Madhav Gadgil, Habiba Gitay, Zuzana Guziova, Calestous Juma, John Krebs, Jane Lubchenco, Jeffrey McNeely, Ndegwa Ndiang’ui, Janos Pasztor, Prabhu L. Pingali, Per Pinstrup-Andersen, and José Sarukhán. And we would like to acknowledge the support and guidance provided by the secretariats and the scientific and technical bodies of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Migratory Species, which have helped to define the focus of the MA and of this report. We are grateful to two members of the Board of Review Editors, Gordon Orians and Richard Norgaard, who played a particularly important role during the review and revision of this synthesis report. And, we would like to thank Ian Noble and Mingsarn Kaosa-ard for their contributions as members of the Assessment Panel during 2002.
We thank the interns and volunteers who worked with the MA Secretariat, part-time members of the Secretariat staff, the administrative staff of the host organizations, and colleagues in other organizations who were instrumental in facilitating the process: Isabelle Alegre, Adlai Amor, Hyacinth Billings, Cecilia Blasco, Delmar Blasco, Herbert Caudill, Lina Cimarrusti, Emily Cooper, Dalène du Plessis, Keisha-Maria Garcia, Habiba Gitay, Helen Gray, Sherry Heileman, Norbert Henninger, Tim Hirsch, Toshie Honda, Francisco Ingouville, Humphrey Kagunda, Brygida Kubiak, Nicholas Lapham, Liz Levitt, Christian Marx, Stephanie Moore, John Mukoza, Arivudai Nambi, Laurie Neville, Rosemarie Philips, Veronique Plocq Fichelet, Maggie Powell, Janet Ranganathan, Carolina Katz Reid, Liana Reilly, Carol Rosen, Mariana Sanchez Abregu, Anne Schram, Jean Sedgwick, Tang Siang Nee, Darrell Taylor, Tutti Tischler, Daniel Tunstall, Woody Turner, Mark Valentine, Elsie Vélez-Whited, Elizabeth Wilson, and Mark Zimsky. Special thanks are due to Linda Starke, who skillfully edited this report, and to Philippe Rekacewicz and Emmanuelle Bournay of UNEP/GRID-Arendal, who prepared the Figures.
We also want to acknowledge the support of a large number of nongovernmental organizations and networks around the world that have assisted in outreach efforts: Alexandria University, Argentine Business Council for Sustainable Development, Asociación Ixa Ca Vaá (Costa Rica), Arab Media Forum for Environment and Development, Brazilian Business Council on Sustainable Development, Charles University (Czech Republic), Chinese Academy of Sciences, European Environmental Agency, European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, EIS-Africa (Burkina Faso), Forest Institute of the State of São Paulo, Foro Ecológico (Peru), Fridtjof Nansen Institute (Norway), Fundación Natura (Ecuador), Global Development Learning Network, Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation, Institute for Biodiversity Conservation and Research–Academy of Sciences of Bolivia, International Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Tropical Forests, IUCN office in Uzbekistan, IUCN Regional Offices for West Africa and South America, Permanent Inter-States Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, Peruvian Society of Environmental Law, Probioandes (Peru), Professional Council of Environmental Analysts of Argentina, Regional Center AGRHYMET (Niger), Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia, Resources and Research for Sustainable Development (Chile), Royal Society (United Kingdom), Stockholm University, Suez Canal University, Terra Nuova (Nicaragua), The Nature Conservancy (United States), United Nations University, University of Chile, University of the Philippines, World Assembly of Youth, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, WWF-Brazil, WWF-Italy, and WWF-US.
We are extremely grateful to the donors that provided major financial support for the MA and the MA Sub-global Assessments: Global Environment Facility; United Nations Foundation; The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; The World Bank; Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research; United Nations Environment Programme; Government of China; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Norway; Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and the Swedish International Biodiversity Programme. We also thank other organizations that provided financial support: Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research; Association of Caribbean States; British High Commission, Trinidad and Tobago; Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Portugal; Canadian International Development Agency; Christensen Fund; Cropper Foundation, Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and Tobago; Ford Foundation; Government of India; International Council for Science; International Development Research Centre; Island Resources Foundation; Japan Ministry of Environment; Laguna Lake Development Authority; Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Rockefeller Foundation; U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; UNEP Division of Early Warning and Assessment; United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; United States National Aeronautic and Space Administration; and Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal. Generous in-kind support has been provided by many other institutions (a full list is available at www.MAweb.org). The work to establish and design the MA was supported by grants from The Avina Group, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Global Environment Facility, Directorate for Nature Management of Norway, Swedish International Development Cooperation Authority, Summit Foundation, UNDP, UNEP, United Nations Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, Wallace Global Fund, and The World Bank.
We give special thanks for the extraordinary contributions of the coordinators and full-time staff of the MA Secretariat: Neville Ash, Elena Bennett, Chan Wai Leng, John Ehrmann, Lori Han, Christine Jalleh, Nicole Khi, Pushpam Kumar, Marcus Lee, Belinda Lim, Nicolas Lucas, Mampiti Matete, Tasha Merican, Meenakshi Rathore, Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, Henk Simons, Sara Suriani, Jillian Thonell, Valerie Thompson, and Monika Zurek.
Finally, we would particularly like to thank Angela Cropper and Harold Mooney, the co-chairs of the MA Assessment Panel, and José Sarukhán and Anne Whyte, the co-chairs of the MA Review Board, for their skillful leadership of the assessment and review processes, and Walter Reid, the MA Director for his pivotal role in establishing the assessment, his leadership, and his outstanding contributions to the process.
Dr. Robert T. Watson
MA Board Co-chair
The World Bank
Dr. A.H. Zakri
MA Board Co-chair
Director, Institute for Advanced Studies
United Nations University
Disclaimer: This chapter is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally written for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as published by the World Resources Institute. The content has not been modified by the Encyclopedia of Earth.
This is a chapter from Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis (full report).
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