Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends: Foreward

September 7, 2011, 5:17 am
Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
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This is part of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends

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 wellbeing. This volume has been produced by the MA Condition and Trends Working Group and assesses the state of knowledge on ecosystems and their services, the drivers of ecosystem change, and the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. The material in this report has undergone two extensive rounds of peer review by experts and governments, overseen by an independent Board of Review Editors.

This is one of four volumes (Current State and Trends, Scenarios, Policy Responses, and Multiscale Assessments) that present the technical findings of the Assessment. Six synthesis reports have also been published: one for a general audience and others focused on issues of biodiversity, wetlands and water, desertification, health, business and ecosystems. These synthesis reports were prepared for decision-makers in these different sectors, and they synthesize and integrate findings from across all of the Working Groups for ease of use by those audiences.

This report and the other three technical volumes provide a unique foundation of knowledge concerning human dependence on ecosystems as we enter the twenty-first century. Never before has such a holistic assessment been conducted that addresses multiple environmental changes, multiple drivers, and multiple linkages to human well-being. Collectively, these reports reveal both the extraordinary success that humanity has achieved in shaping ecosystems to meet the needs of growing populations and economies and the growing costs associated with many of these changes. They show us that these costs could grow substantially in the future, but also that there are actions within reach that could dramatically enhance both human well-being and the conservation of ecosystems.

A more exhaustive set of acknowledgments appears later in this volume but we want to express our gratitude to the members of the MA Board, Board Alternates, Exploratory Steering Committee, Assessment Panel, Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors, Contributing Authors, Board of Review Editors, and Expert Reviewers for their extraordinary contributions to this process. (The list of reviewers is available at We also would like to thank the MA Secretariat and in particular the staff of the Condition and Trends Working Group Technical Support Unit for their dedication in coordinating the production of this volume, as well as the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, which housed this TSU.

We would particularly like to thank the Co-chairs of the Condition and Trends Working Group, Dr. Rashid Hassan and Dr. Robert Scholes, and the TSU Coordinator, Neville Ash, for their skillful leadership of this Working Group and their contributions to the overall assessment.

Dr. Robert T. Watson
MA Board Co-chair
Chief Scientist,
The World Bank
Dr. A.H. Zakri
MA Board Co-chair
Director, Institute for Advanced Studies
United Nations University


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Disclaimer: This section 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: Volume 1: Current State and Trends.
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