Ecosystem services and poverty reduction: Understanding the nexus (14711)
Ecosystem services (ES), which can be thought of as the benefits humans derive from ecosystems, is becoming a powerful concept in environmental research and policy today. The concept, and the anthropocentric ethics that accompany it, provides new ways of thinking about the contribution of nature to human wellbeing. As yet however, understanding the contribution of this new thinking to wellbeing and marginal people, whose livelihoods are often dependent on ecosystems, is limited. In this paper, I explore how the ecosystems services literature is addressing issues of poverty and potential linkages between ecosystem services, poverty reduction and political ecology. Research on ecosystem services is mostly dominated by ecological economics but it is gradually getting attention from other disciplines, which are exploring the relationship between ecosystem services and poverty reduction. Integrated thinking and multidisciplinary research is required to understand the nexus of ecosystem services and poverty reduction. Political ecology provides an opportunity to understand this nexus as it engages with political economic processes that produce poverty and impact ecosystem services. How global and national discourses on ecosystem services are manifested in local situations and impact ecosystems and marginalized people can be understood through analytical tools of political ecology. In addition, political ecology directs attention to issues of power and politics that shape poverty determinants such as social differentiation and access to ecosystem services, thereby providing a means of strengthening research in this area.