Pathways to Impact

The Pathways to Impact track at this year’s Symposium will highlight engagements where ecosystem services (ES) information has had an impact on a decision, a stakeholder process, or an outcome. This track will focus on engagements that address a real policy window in collaboration with local stakeholders, and where it can be demonstrated – or at least there is good reason to believe – that the ES information will be used to inform decisions. There will be a total of 8 sessions in this track (90 minutes each).

The Pathways to Impact track will include several sessions that showcase examples of specific decision contexts and actors – such as sustainable development planning with national governments, development and restoration planning in regional or local communities, building coalitions around source water protection, and supply chain sustainability with corporate actors. In addition there will be a session on engaging stakeholders and integrating cultural and socio-economic dimensions into ES assessments, and on measuring and maximizing impacts.

P1) Managing agricultural landscapes to improve water quality and other ecosystem services

Agricluture in the 21st century faces a stark challenge: society needs to meet the world’s increasing demands for food, fuel and fiber while also reducing impacts on natural ecosystems and the multiple valuable ecosystem services they provide.  In the US there is broad consensus about the need to reduce nutrient losses from agricultural systems, yet despite years of research and untold millions of dollars of investment in implementing improved practices, water quality problems resulting from non-point source pollution persist at both local and regional scales around the country. As public and private institutions double-down on efforts to grapple with this problem there remains a need for rigorous information about how to balance tradeoffs between agricultural production, local and regional water quality, wildlife habitat, flood mitigation and other valuable ecosystem services.
This session will aim to identify the key information gaps that could be filled by new ecosystem services science and, importantly, to highlight the pathways to implementation through which such new science could best inform decision-making in agricultural landscapes.

Confirmed speakers

  • Lisa Schulte-Moore (Iowa State)
    • “Who said prairie and corn don’t mix? Strategic integration of native plants to improve ecosystem services from agriculture”
  • Kris Johnson (The Nature Consercancy)
    • “Paying farmers to grow clean water: an analysis of the benefits of CRP lands in Indian Creek”
  • Larry Clemens (Director, The Nature Conservancy, NA Ag Program)
    • “Science, Sustainability, Supply Chains, OH MY!”
  • Moira McDonald (Walton Foundation)
    • “Improving water quality in the Mississippi: how to move from demonstration to basin scale?”

P2) Methodological advances in economics for natural capital

Speakers in this session will cover recent advances in economics to include ecosystem services and natural capital into decision making

Confirmed speakers

  • Jim Salzman (Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UCSB)
    • “Payments for Ecosystem Services: Past, Present and Future”
  • Ken Bagstad (Research Economist, U.S. Geological Survey)
    • “Natural capital accounting: Bringing nature’s value into the national economic accounts”
  • Eli Fenichel (Yale University)
    • “Measuring the value of natural capital for wealth accounting: from rhetoric to reality”
  • Steve Polasky (University of Minnesota/Natural Capital Project)
    • “Challenges to valuing natural capital”

P3) People matter!: Social-ecological systems, resilience, and stakeholder engagement

Much of ecosystem services and resilience work focuses on the links between social and ecological systems, including how natural resource management decisions affect human well-being and vice versa. Incorporating ecosystem services and resilience considerations into decision-making means bringing this knowledge on the links between social and ecological systems into a broader process of engagement. Working towards sustainable, resilient societies requires integrative approaches that bring together diverse stakeholders and incorporate different types of knowledge into decision-making. This participatory session will feature work that focuses on the process by which ecosystem services knowledge is brought into decisions, and how such processes can foster learning and adaptive capacity.

Confirmed speakers

  • Amy Rosenthal (MacArthur Foundation)
    • Stakeholder engagement: characteristics that determine success from the literature and ecosystem services case studies”
  • Maria Theresa Vargas (Fundacion Natura)
    • “Reciprocal Watershared Agreements: building a stakeholder constituency for water conservation in the Andes”
  • Jan Cassin (Forest Trends)
    • “Stakeholder engagement across three continents”
  • Adelle Thomas (College of the Bahamas)
    • Stakeholder Engagement in Andros, Bahamas, to Inform Long-term Development Planning”
  • Nirmal Bhagabati (WWF/Natural Capital Project)
    • “Informing spatial planning and other decision contexts in Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia and beyond”

P4) Maximizing and measuring our impacts

We believe that by engaging in an iterative science-policy process, decision-makers will be more likely to consider ecosystem services in policy, and that this will ultimately result in better outcomes for nature and human well-being. There is a growing body of work highlighting how ES can best inform policy, ways to diagnose policy windows and tailor engagements appropriately. At the same time, practitioners in the field are implementing outcomes monitoring to identify impacts of policy decisions on ES and HWB. In this session, we will discuss lessons learned from policy engagement, outcomes monitoring, and how to build capacity for ES practitioners to maximize impacts.

Confirmed speakers

  • Stephen Posner (COMPASS)
    • Measuring and maximizing the impact of boundary organizations”
  • Laurent Mermet (AgroParis Tech)
    • The challenges of obtaining evidence on impacts to improve action: Teachings from the field of Policy Evaluation”
  • Tomas Declercq (UNEP-TEEB)
    • “Lessons learned from implementation of the TEEB framework in multiple countries”
  • Luis Alberto Gonzales (TNC Peru)
    • “Achievements and challenges in incorporating ecosystem services into policy decisions: The case of water and AQUAFONDO in Lima, Peru”

Moderator: Fernando Veiga (LAWFP)

P5) Business perspectives on the natural capital agenda

The private sector accounts for most production and consumption in almost every country, while the world’s major private sector organizations exceed all but the largest governments in financial resources and influence. Business decisions on investment, operations and across supply chains have enormous impacts on natural capital. Ecosystem service science, tools and approaches must therefore address priority questions facing business and support their decision-making to better manage impacts and dependencies on natural capital. This session will focus on the natural capital agenda from a private sector perspective. It will highlight gaps and recent advances in science, tools and frameworks, as well as lessons from case studies where spatially explicit ecosystem service information is being used to improve decisions at multiple scales.

Confirmed speakers

  • Jonathan Green, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Cambridge University and Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
    • Managing the impacts and dependencies of business upon food, energy, water and the environment: What are the research priorities?”
  • Joshua Bishop, National Manager – Markets, Sustainability and Business, WWF-Australia
    • The Natural Capital Protocol: A standardized framework for business natural capital assessments to support better decision making”
  • Carina Mueller, Sustainability Scientist, Unilever
    • “Assessment of natural capital to inform business decisions: A Unilever bioplastics use case”
  • Derric Pennington, Lead Scientist, WWF-US
    • “Assessing the Role of Sustainability Standards to Mitigate Supply-Chain Risk: a case for sugarcane and natural capital”

Moderator: Teresa Beck

P6) Sustainable Development Planning: Connecting Natural Capital to National Development Goals

With the recent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and a growing interest in green economy approaches, an increasing number of countries are explicitly integrating natural capital into their development planning decisions. This demand for natural capital information has spurred advances in ecosystem service science and analytical approaches. This session brings together researchers, practitioners, policy experts and government representatives from countries employing natural capital-based approaches to development planning to showcase examples where ecosystem services science is informing development policy and practice.

Confirmed speakers

  • Sai Nay Mon Wyint (WWF-Myanmar) & Win Ko Ko Win (National League for Democracy, Myanmar)
  • Eoin Sinnott (WWF) with Jose Rafael (University Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique) & Marcos Eugenio Sapateiro (Ministry of Land, Environment, and Rural Development, Mozambique)
  • Brett Lashley (Office of the Prime Minister, Bahamas)
  • Steve Schill (The Nature Conservancy)
  • Hua Zheng (Chinese Academy of Science)
  • Ben Milligan (University College London)

P7) Bringing ecosystem services to the table: Case studies in regional planning, ES assessment, and policy engagement

This session features case studies where ecosystem services information has been used in a policy or planning process at a regional or local scale. These cases cover a multitude of services, geographies, and policy types.

Confirmed speakers

  • Anthony Lehmann (University of Geneva)
    • “Assessing ecosystem services with SWAT and InVEST in the Black Sea Catchment”
  • Siyuan He (Luc Hoffman Institute, WWF International)
    • “Linking ecosystems to human well-being: China National Parks for People”
  • John Quinn (Furman University)
  • Barano Siswa Sulistyawan (WWF Indonesia)
    • “InVEST From Vision to Actions: Cases in the RIMBA Corridor Landscape”
  • Danielle Pieranunzi (SITES Initiative, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)
    • “The SITES® Rating System: An incentive to protect and restore natural capital on land development projects”

P8) The Natural Capital Project-LEEP Partnership: Pathways to impact in the United Kingdom

This session, led by Ian Bateman from the University of Exeter’s new Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP), will look at several recent successes in integrated modeling, dynamic modeling, and their impacts on public policy.

Confirmed speakers

  • Ian Bateman (Exeter University, Leading Session)
    • “LEEP: Restoring Natural Capital and Making Smarter Decisions”
  • Karen Ellis (WWF-UK)
    • “Natural capital in the UK Government’s new 25 year plan for nature – and learning from policy applications elsewhere”
  • Amy Binner (Exeter University)
    • “Integrating natural science and economics: Designing optimal natural capital configurations”
  • Brett Day (Exeter University)
    • “From natural capital research to policy tools”