Loos et al, Environmental justice and ecosystem services

Loos, J., F. Benra, M. Berbés-Blázquez, L.L. Bremer, K.M.A. Chan et al. (2023). “An environmental justice perspective on ecosystem services.” Ambio 52(3): 477-488. 10.1007/s13280-022-01812-1

Mainstreaming of ecosystem service approaches has been proposed as one path toward sustainable development. Meanwhile, critics of ecosystem services question if the approach can account for the multiple values of ecosystems to diverse groups of people, or for aspects of inter- and intra-generational justice. In particular, an ecosystem service approach often overlooks power dimensions and capabilities that are core to environmental justice. This article addresses the need for greater guidance on incorporating justice into ecosystem services research and practice. We point to the importance of deep engagement with stakeholders and rights holders to disentangle contextual factors that moderate justice outcomes on ecosystem service attribution and appropriation in socio-political interventions. Such a holistic perspective enables the integration of values and knowledge plurality for enhancing justice in ecosystem services research. This broadened perspective paves a way for transformative ecosystem service assessments, management, and research, which can help inform and design governance structures that nourish human agency to sustainably identify, manage, and enjoy ecosystem services for human wellbeing.