Ecosystem services is an innovative approach that tries to value the benefits that humans receive from ecosystems (i.e. in monetary terms) in order to integrate them into water management. This is a challenge in an already complex water management framework. The relatively poor knowledge on the role of ecosystem services in the provision of water related services needs to be transformed into a credible, replicable and scalable concept.
Innovation with regard to integration of ecosystem services into water resources management requires overcoming the fragmentation of responsibilities and knowledge between disciplines, administrative bodies, agencies and entities. Water use planning and pricing policies need to actively address ecosystem needs. There is a need to better understand connections between healthy ecosystems and the attainment of social and economic goals. Monitoring and reporting frameworks which are better aligned with the ecosystem approach are not sufficiently developed, while the assessment of their environmental, economic and social values is even weaker.
The introduction of an ecosystem services approach offers market opportunities in the water utilities sector and other sectors for the introduction, implementation and administration of sustainable ecosystem management and eco-toxicology. Furthermore, the establishment of markets dealing with quantified ecosystem services offer opportunities further develop the concept of payments for ecosystem services.
The valuation of ecosystem services is widely implemented and includes other approaches such as non-monetary valuations for tangible and intangible ecosystem services in project and program evaluation. The protection of ecosystems is complemented with a service and management oriented approach, including the aspects of biodiversity in aquatic habitats. Furthermore, the position of ecosystem services is strengthened through involvement of all stakeholders in awareness-raising and support of its implementation in a range of applications.
The Steering Group of the EIP Water invites Action Groups to develop and test:
- Methodologies for valuation of and payment for ecosystem services, including tangible and intangible services.
- Innovative management schemes addressing water related ecosystem services in Europe and non-European countries.