What are national ecosystem assessments?
A national ecosystem assessment is a nationally-driven process to develop an up-to-date, comprehensive and critical synthesis of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interlinkages to people. These assessments are contextualized to suit national needs and respond to specific policy questions.
National ecosystem assessments lay out the status and trends on biodiversity and ecosystem services in a given country, their drivers of change, the present and future impacts of those drivers, the implications for those relying on nature, and the effectiveness of interventions and responses to counteract the loss of biodiversity.
National ecosystem assessments aspire to be credible, legitimate and relevant by bringing together a range of knowledge types and engaging a wide set of stakeholders. They aim to address specific policy questions to empower the full consideration of the value of nature in decision-making.
The NEA Initiative supports countries to tailor the process developed by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to carry out ecosystem assessments. The aim is to adapt national ecosystem assessments to specific national needs and circumstances, empowering greater support for decision-making.
There are four key stages in the national ecosystem assessment process:
- Scoping: This first stage of the assessment process explores how and why an assessment might be carried out and defines key policy questions to be addressed. A scoping report is the main output of this stage.
- Evaluation: This is when the evaluation of existing knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services takes place, guided by the key policy questions identified during the scoping stage. A technical report and a summary for policymakers (SPM) are the main outputs of this stage.
- Approval: In this stage, stakeholders, in particular the government, accept the technical report and approve the summary for policymakers. This increases the likelihood of the key messages being used to inform decision-making processes.
- Use of assessment findings: Once the assessment has been approved, an action plan is developed to support the integration of assessment findings into decision-making. The work starts here towards empowering the consideration of the full value of nature in policy processes.