Ecosystem services research and stakeholder involvement: Between theories and practice

What do people value, why and how? This should be a leading question in sustainability research, but putting it into practise can be tricky. A new paper published in the journal Ecosystem Services looks at how to improve stakeholder participation in the research on and governance of ecosystem services (ESS) as a stepping point to more comprehensive and participatory research practises.

Credit: J. Settele 

Stakeholder participation in the governance of ecosystem services (ESS) is conceptually necessary, especially in the light of the failure of monetary valuation to provide assessment instruments suitable as policy guidance. To answer the Whys and Hows of ESS research real involvement and participation of stakeholders has proven to be a more valuable tool.

Building upon experience from transdisciplinary research projects in Asia, Africa and Europe, the new paper argues that successful participation depends on the specific socio-cultural context and requires different means and modes of participation during different project phases.

The paper provides a useful overview of tested methods, with their pros and cons listed. Alongside the challenges on the basis of different projects experiences, the research also outlines the ways in which good project coordination can help for such difficulties to be anticipated and handled. The main conclusions and recommendations are extracted in five core lessons, with regards to:

- Participation;

- Target groups;

- Integration;

- Managing;

- Limits to economic valuation;

This paper benefitted from the experience in transdisciplinary research projects over the last 20 years, in particular the EU FP 6 Integrated Project "ALARM" (GOCE-CT-2003-506675, 2003-2008), "LEGATO" (German Ministry for Education and Research, research Grant no. FKZ01LL0917A-01LL0917O, 2010-2016), "EO-Miners" (EU FP 7 research Grant agreement no. 244242, 2009-2013), "APPEAL" (funded by BiodivERsA 2011-33, Grant 01LC1102A, 2011-2015),"EJOLT" (EU FP7 Science in Society Grant agreement no. 266642, 2011-2015), "ENRI" (ESF European Science Foundation funded, 2011-2015), "DEEDS" (EU Leonardo da Vinci Programme funded, 2005-2008) (Contract no. DK/06/B/F/PP-145612'DK/06/B/F/PP-145612), "SUSTRAT" (EU FP5 funded, IHDP endorsed, 2002-2006) (Contract no. HPSE-CT-2002-50019HPSE-CT-2002-50019), and earlier projects.

Original Source:

Joachim H. Spangenberg, Christoph Görg, Josef Settele, Stakeholder involvement in ESS research and governance: Between conceptual ambition and practical experiences - risks, challenges and tested tools, Ecosystem Services, Volume 16, December 2015, Pages 201-211, ISSN 2212-0416,