Learning Exchange

Where the Pathways to Impact track focuses on engagements that are already having an impact, this year’s Learning Exchange is focusing on leading edge, experimental, and theoretical work that is still on its way to making an impact. The 8 sessions in the Learning Exchange will feature robust interchanges of creative ideas in a variety of formats, from poster sessions and lightning talks, to roundtable discussions of lessons learned, software demonstrations, and panel discussions of the latest science and research at the farthest reaches of ecosystem services science.

L1) Lightning Talks

This session provides a venue for researchers and practitioners to share their diverse experiences and work with natural capital approaches. The session will consist of nine short presentations followed by small group breakout discussions on topics introduced during the lightning talks.


  • Ashley Pilipiszyn (University of Geneva)
  • Yangfan Li (Xiamen University)
  • Shang Chen (First Institute of Oceanography)
  • Seong Do Yun (Yale Forestry)
  • Kirsten Oleson (University of Hawaii Manoa)
  • Mariana Ferreira (WWF Brasil)
  • Chris Crawford (Sustainable Conservation)
  • Sarah Bergmann (The Pollinator Pathway)
  • Benis Egoh (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa)

L2) Implementing InVEST in New Contexts

As InVEST continues to be deployed in new applications worldwide, it is being used to inform an ever-expanding range of decision contexts, including infrastructure, national development, and climate-smart planning. This session provides a venue for researchers and practitioners to present their experiences using InVEST within these and other contexts. *Note: there will be limited seating (40 or fewer attendees) for this session

Confirmed Presenters

  • James Snider (WWF Canada)
    • “Identifying areas of future water risk in Canada using InVEST”
  • Kristen Podalak (The Nature Conservancy)
    • “Truckee River Water Fund: Additions to RIOS and new comparisons using InVEST”
  • Miguel Pascual (CENPAT)
    • “Evaluating biodiversity and ecosystem service goals for working landscapes in Argentina”

L3) Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services

This session will center its activities on designing spatial planning tools and supply chain management strategies that balance tradeoffs among extinction risk, agricultural production, carbon sequestration, water supply, and human well-being. Moreover, we will apply our conservation planning tools to develop global scenarios and identifying regional case studies where people, nature, and agriculture coexist in harmony. In this session, Chase Mendenhall (Stanford University) will facilitate a discussion between academic researchers, field practitioners, and other attendees on the coming advances in strategies and tools for improving the connections between biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. Short presentations from featured presenters will seed various topics of conversation.

Confirmed Presenters

  • Chase Mendenhall (Stanford University)
  • Tim Newbold (University College London)
  • Peter Hawthorne (University of Minnesota/Natural Capital Project)
  • Miguel Bugalho (WWF and University of Lisbon)
    • “Creating conservation portfolios: How to identify areas optimizing biodiversity and ecosystem services in forest ecosystems?”
  • Eddy Silva (WWF-Galapagos, formerly TNC-Caribbean)

L4) Lessons Learned: Training, Teaching, and Capacity Building

Building and strengthening capacity to apply ecosystem service approaches and tools is a key focal area for NatCap. In this session we will hear lessons learned from our community of practice as they talk about their efforts to educate and train others about nature’s value to people.

Confirmed Presenters

  • Lisa Ingwall-King (UNEP-WCMC)
    • “Using training to build capacity in site-scale ecosystem services assessments: Experiences from TESSA”
  • Grégory Giuliani (University of Geneva)
    • “Discovering and Accessing Environmental Data for the Natural Capital Project”
  • Ellen Hines (San Francisco State University)
    • “Advising graduate students in applications of InVEST and other tools for marine habitat and mammal conservation”

L5) Experimental Tools and Research & Development

Since its first release eight years ago, InVEST has evolved into a platform on which the next generation of ecosystem service analyses are being built. This session will demonstrate how NatCap software can lay the groundwork for building new and more complex analyses for real-world use cases, and showcase two experimental applications that take the successes of InVEST and apply them in novel ways for specific decision contexts.

Confirmed Presenters

  • James Douglass (Natural Capital Project)
    • “NatCap Software as Infrastructure: Updates to InVEST, PyGeoprocessing, and enabling the next generation of ecosystem service analyses”
  • Peter Hawthorne (University of Minnesota/Natural Capital Project)
    • “ROOT: A new tool to quantify tradeoffs with ecosystem service optimization”
  • Justin Johnson (University of Minnesota/Natural Capital Project)
    • “MESH:  A new tool that combines data creation, scenario generation, multiple InVEST models and reporting”

L6) What is the value of nature in the city?

What is the role of natural capital in promoting sustainable & livable cities? This session will explore the evidence for green infrastructure, parks, and other vegetated spaces in providing valuable services to urban residents. Talks will be followed by a panel discussion highlighting frontiers in urban systems research and lessons learned from implementing nature-based solutions in cities around the world.

Confirmed Presenters

  • Horacio Terraza, Inter-American Development Bank
    • “Sustainable Cities and Nature – Going beyond green infrastructure”
  • Stephanie Pincetl, Director and Professor-in-Residence, California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA
    • “Beyond Ecosystem Services: Cities in the post carbon age”
  • Lacy Shelby, Principal Urban Designer, City of Minneapolis
    • “Nature as Guide: using placemaking to connect people to urban nature”

Moderator: Bonnie Keeler, Natural Capital Project/University of Minnesota & Peter Kareiva, Director, UCLA Institute for Environment and Sustainability

L7) Natural Capital, Human Health, and the Environment

A multidisciplinary panel of natural and social scientist will discuss the interface of human health through the lens of natural capital. We will explore role of the natural environment on interrelationships between economic productivity, nutrition and disease, across difference scales and population gradients. The panel will present some practical solutions that can leverage knowledge of the environment to benefit human health and economic productivity of the poor.

Confirmed Presenters

  • Kenneth Arrow (Stanford University)
    • “Local Pollution: Air and Water, Benefits and Costs”
  • Matt Bonds (Stanford University)
    • “Ecology of Poverty and Disease: From Theory to Practice”
  • Grant Miller (Stanford University)
    • “Global Health, the Environment, and Behavior Change”
  • Giulio De Leo (Stanford University)
    • “The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend: Discovering Novel Ecological Solutions to Fight Infectious Diseases of Poverty”
  • Desiree LaBeaud (Stanford University)
    • “Vector-Borne Disease Risk: Environmental Influences on Health”

L8) Sustainable Development Planning: Connecting Natural Capital to National Development Goals

This session is an extension of the Pathways to Impact session on sustainable development planning (P2). In this Learning Exchange Session, case study representatives will provide insights into the technical dimensions of their work, which are enabling integration of natural capital information into sustainable development planning processes from the Bahamas, China, Myanmar and beyond. Through presentations and discussion, panelists and session attendees together will explore cutting-edge approaches to natural capital assessments, identify priority areas for advancement and share lessons learned in communicating results to decision makers.  *Note: there will be limited seating (40 or fewer attendees) for this session
Confirmed Presenters

  • Matthew Ling (United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre)
  • Shenique Albury-Smith (The Nature Conservancy, Caribbean Program)
  • Cong Li (Xi’an Jiaotong University)
  • Stacie Wolny (Natural Capital Project)