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Natural Capital, Ecosystem Services, and Sustainable Wellbeing

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The IGP welcomes Prof. Robert Costanza (UCL Institute for Global Prosperity) for a Director's Seminar

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Ecosystems are connected to human well-being in a number of complex ways at multiple time and space scales. The challenge is understanding and modeling these interconnections, with a range of purposes including providing information to decision-makers. In order for ecosystem services (the benefits provided to humans by the rest of nature) to occur, natural capital (natural ecosystems and their products that do not require human activity to build or maintain) must interact with other forms of capital. These include built or manufactured capital, human capital (e.g., human labor and knowledge), and social capital (e.g., communities and cultures). Thus, understanding ecosystem services requires an integrated, transdisciplinary approach that is concerned with the way these four types of assets contribute to sustainable human well-being and the synergies and trade-offs among them. The process of valuation of ecosystem services is about quantifying and modeling these synergies and trade-offs to allow better management. It requires a deeper understanding of the interconnections among human psychology and decision processes, ecosystem processes and functions, and economic production and consumption processes at multiple time and space scales. It can also lay the groundwork for new policy and governance institutions to better manage ecosystems as common assets.

The Speaker:

Robert Costanza is Professor of Ecological Economics at the Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) at University College London (UCL). Previously, he was a Vice-Chancellor’s Chair in Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Stockholm, Sweden, an Affiliate Fellow at the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont, and a deTao Master of Ecological Economics at the deTao Masters Academy in Shanghai, China. He is a Fellow in the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in the UK, and is an Overseas Expert in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Professor Costanza’s transdisciplinary research integrates the study of humans and the rest of nature to address research, policy and management issues at multiple time and space scales, from small watersheds to the global system. His specialties include: transdisciplinary integration, systems ecology, ecological economics, ecosystem services, landscape ecology, integrated socio-ecological modeling, ecological design, energy analysis, environmental policy, social traps and addictions, incentive structures, and institutions.

He is co-founder and past-president of the International Society for Ecological Economics and was founding chief editor of the society’s journal Ecological Economics. He currently serves on the editorial board of ten other international academic journals. He is also founding co-editor in chief of Solutions a unique hybrid academic/popular journal and editor in chief of the Anthropocene Review.

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Organiser UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

Organiser of Natural Capital, Ecosystem Services, and Sustainable Wellbeing

http://www.igp.ucl.ac.uk/

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