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2011-12-07 | story

EfD Fellow Umaña speaks at workshop on Ecosystem Services and Human Well-Being

Experts from around the world converge to discuss new approaches and policies for understanding the links between ecosystem services and evaluating the effects of agricultural development strategies and human well-being.

Alvaro Umaña, Senior Research Fellow at EfD Central America Center talks at a workshop on “Uncommon Dialogues on Ecosystem Services and Human Well-Being”. The event is organized by the Rockefeller Foundation and Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment in Palo Alto, California, USA and takes places between December 7 and 8, 2011.

Some of the central questions address by the participants relate to ways the poor have benefitted from ecosystem services and conservation approaches, either directly through compensation or indirectly as beneficiaries from the improvement in their delivery. The discussions also revolve around what is needed to integrate these issues in policy design and implementation for new approaches to benefit the poor.

Umaña participates at the event representing both EfD-Central America and CATIE and will give short kick-off remarks about the connection between ecosystem services and human development objectives as well as how to promote greater integration in the future. When asked about what expectation he has from the outcomes of the workshop Umaña said: “Some of the experts from Latin America and China will talk about these issues based on the experiences in their regions. I think there would be very rich and productive discussions about policy interactions needed for ecosystem services enhancement and poverty reduction. It is important to make these dialogues more common than uncommon”.

Other participants with close relation to EfD-Central America, and CATIE are Steve Polasky from the University of Minnesota and Paul Ferraro from Georgia State University. This year both experts joined our team in Costa Rica as core faculty in two LACEEP courses. Polasky taught the course on “The Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity” and Ferraro taught another course on Policy and Program Impact Evaluation—he will join EfD again spending the first semester of 2012 in CATIE.

It is expected the event will produce a series of ideas and suggestions to move policies that link ecosystem services and human well-being forward. Also, new policy approaches and finance mechanisms for decision-making for achieving better outcomes on these issues.

In addition Umaña was invited to participate in another workshop “Discussion of a standardized approach to evaluating effects of agricultural development strategies on human well-being and the environment”. This event takes place on December 9, 2011 at the Law School of Stanford University and is organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation together with the Natural Capital Project.

The objectives of the workshop are to discuss and begin to outline an analytical framework that will address priority management or policy questions framed for agricultural development-poverty alleviation issues; and to clearly define the elements of the standard analytical framework encompassing the multiple ecosystem and social impacts (e.g., indicators, criteria or thresholds to be tested, etc.).