Short course offered by MDP on Ecosystem Services Assessment

March 27, 2019

This spring, the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) Program offered a special short course on “Integrating Ecosystem Services Assessment into Development Planning.”

The course was led by Lucy Emerton, an expert practitioner who has been working as an environmental economist for the last 30 years across almost 70 countries. Emerton’s work focuses particularly on the links between environment and development, biodiversity and ecosystem valuation, climate adaptation and mitigation, and the development of innovative conservation finance and incentive mechanisms.

The premise of the intensive four-day course was that, over recent decades it has become increasingly apparent that effective, inclusive and sustainable development relies on maintaining people’s access (and rights) to a clean and healthy natural environment. The close links between ecosystem services – “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems” – and human wellbeing are now explicitly recognized at all levels of conservation and development policy and practice.

The course offered a general introduction to the concepts and principles surrounding ecosystem services, and gave an overview of basic steps and approaches for identifying, understanding, acting on and communicating ecosystem-development linkages. It equipped participants with knowledge and understanding to plan and manage processes to assess ecosystem services, integrate the results into development planning, and use the results effectively and convincingly to strengthen decision-making actions and outcomes.

A total of 18 students participated, drawing from not only the MDP program but also from the UA programs in Arid Lands, Anthropology, Geography, and Natural Resources and the Environment. "This short course, taught by an internationally known specialist in environmental economics, offered Arizona students access to state-of-the-art thinking about ecosystem services," said MDP Director Katherine Snyder. "The course reflected the MDP Program's commitment to bridging the divide between academic study and hands-on practice in the field of international development."