Blog Post

The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) recently held their 7th annual conference in the oft-rainy San Jose, Costa Rica, under the theme ‘Local Action for the Common Good’. Costa Rica was an excellent site for discussions around ecosystem services, as their renowned efforts in setting up national Payment for Ecosystem Services has led to extensive reforestation in the country. It also cemented their status as a model prototype for other nations and regions wishing to set up similar frameworks. The conference had several hundred international attendees, and a positive focus on Latin America and the Caribbean region, with keynote speeches from previous and current ministers, as well as many ecosystem services experts. The numerous parallel sessions allowed for most conference participants to demonstrate their fascinating and varied research and efforts to collaborate in this field.

The conference continued to highlight the ‘local’ aspect of the theme, with numerous field trips to local sites before the end of the conference, including sustainable farms, coffee plantations, and hydroelectric dams amongst others. These field trips demonstrated the positive outcomes of conservation and reforestation efforts that Costa Rica has accomplished through their payment for ecosystem services framework, as well as showing the obstacles and barriers that local stakeholders continue to face.

Both Emmanuelle Quillerou and Naomi Stewart, who are part of the Scientific Coordination for the ELD Initiative team from UNU-INWEH were present and collaborated on a special ELD Initiative Workshop Session. The session focused on the efforts of the initiative so far, including from the working groups and case studies that have been undertaken thus far (available on the ELD Initiative website). An informal panel session led to some positive dialogue, with participants especially interested in seeing research and activities related to the ELD undertaken in their home regions.

Overall, the conference was a great success that brought together many key individuals in both ecosystem services, as well as the ELD Initiative, as the work continues in the area of creating rationale and tools for greater environmental  awareness and sustainability. More information about the conference itself can be found here.