Ecosystems and Human Well-being Synthesis: Appendix B. Effectiveness of Assessed Responses

This is part of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment report Ecosystems and Human Well-Being Synthesis


A response is considered to be effective when its assessment indicates that it has enhanced the particular ecosystem service (or, in the case of biodiversity, its conservation and sustainable use) and contributed to human well-being without significant harm to other ecosystem services or harmful impacts to other groups of people. A response is considered promising either if it does not have a long track record to assess but appears likely to succeed or if there are known means of modifying the response so that it can become effective. A response is considered problematic if its historical use indicates either that it has not met the goals related to service enhancement (or conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity) or that it has caused significant harm to other ecosystem services. Labeling a response as effective does not mean that the historical assessment has not identified problems or harmful trade-offs. Such trade-offs almost always exist, but they are not considered significant enough as to negate the effectiveness of the response. Similarly, labeling a response as problematic does not mean that there are no promising opportunities to reform the response in a way that can meet its policy goals without undue harm to ecosystem services.

The typology of responses presented in the Table in this Appendix is defined by the nature of the intervention, classified as follows: institutional and legal (I), economic and incentives (E), social and behavioral (S), technological (T), and knowledge and cognitive (K). Note that the dominant class is given in the Table. The actors who make decisions to implement a response are governments at different levels, such as international (GI) (mainly through multilateral agreements or international conventions), national (GN), and local (GL); the business/industry sector (B); and civil society, which includes nongovernmental organizations (NGO), community-based and indigenous peoples organizations (C), and research institutions (R). The actors are not necessarily equally important.

The table includes responses assessed for a range of ecosystem services—food, fresh water, wood, nutrient management, flood and storm control, disease regulation, and cultural services. It also assesses responses for biodiversity conservation, integrated responses, and responses addressing one specific driver: climate change.

















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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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Institute, W. (2011). Ecosystems and Human Well-being Synthesis: Appendix B. Effectiveness of Assessed Responses. Retrieved from


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