[Article] Towards an ecosystem services approach that addresses social power relations

Berbés-Blázquez, M, JA González and U Pascual. 2016. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 19:134-143

Although power relations largely mediate access, use and management of ecosystems, they have not yet been considered in ecosystem services science. This omission limits the ability of the ecosystem services approach to guide environmental decision-making that can deliver ecological sustainability and socially fair outcomes. We propose three ways to address power relations more centrally: (1) analyze how power relations underpin the governance and institutions that determine access to and control over ecosystem services; (2) assess how labor relations around ecosystem services coproduction impact human well-being; and (3) recognize the historical co-evolution of power relations and environmental change in shaping ecosystem services values. We believe that IPBES offers a unique opportunity to orchestrate transdisciplinary efforts to integrate power relations in ecosystem assessments.


This review comes from a themed issue on Sustainability science edited by Hal Mooney. We endorsed this work because it cuts across the three challenges of the ecoSERVICES science strategy.

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