Assessment of the Economic Impact of Climate Change on CARICOM Countries

Haites, E. et al. World Bank Technical Paper. 68 p. 2002
Primary Country: Caribbean

Managing small-scale fisheries in the Caribbean: the surface longline fishery in Gouyave, Grenada

Grant, S. PhD Dissertation, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba. 270pp. 2006
Primary Country: Grenada

Learning to Speak Ecosystem Services


By Christian Neumann, Linwood Pendleton, Marianne Kettunen, Tundi Agardy

The value of ecosystems and the associated services they provide is receiving growing attention both in the public and decision-making arena. The language of Ecosystem Services essentially translates the complexity of ecological processes and functions into descriptors that define the socio-economic-ecological link. To overcome the challenge of scientific and non-scientific communities having to find a common language, it is worth keeping a few key aspects in mind.  


Talk about the big picture

The concept of Ecosystem Services has the potential to reconcile growth of the three pillars of sustainability (social, environmental and economic), often considered to be mutually exclusive: the concept recognises functional ecosystems as a foundation for social and economic development. At the same time, it helps us communicate the link between very direct human needs, such as healthy, clean drinking water, and rather indirect management responses such as securing the quality of upstream ecosystems that provide a water purification function.

The recent scientific advancement of the Ecosystem Services concept and its application in planning and decision-making have added substantial credibility to the understanding of the role that healthy, functioning ecosystems play for human well-being as well as social and economic development. Consequentially, Ecosystem Services have received growing attention from policy-makers as well as the public. However, this increased attention reveals the science to a broader, non-scientific audience, which is a challenge for both communities, as they often don’t speak a common language. 


Know whom you are talking with    

Within the scientific community it is important to maintain the scientific precision essential to advancing scientific understanding. However, in communication with the public, policy- or decision-makers or private sector representatives, it is important to recognise that while people might be familiar with the ecosystem services themselves, they are less so with the related concepts and its specific terminology. Communicating with non-scientific audiences in planning or other decision-making processes, for example through press articles or stakeholder consultation, language used by scientists should reflect the realities and understandings of the interactions of each audience with Ecosystem Services. 

Developing such situation-specific language should be a “co-creative” process, through bi-directional observation and listening. Such an effort will not only lead to a shared language, but in itself further add to the knowledge on local Ecosystem Services and their cultural, social and economic context. Working in a multi- and inter- disciplinarily manner with colleagues from natural, social and cultural sciences will help in both understanding and adapting the Ecosystem Service language to local contexts.

The more relevant Ecosystem Service information becomes for the public, the more careful the scientific community needs to become when balancing linguistic flexibility and scientific precision, in order to be able to convey messages clearly and correctly in layman terms, and to avoid terminology ‘wearing off’ (see for example the term ‘sustainable’).


Different kinds of values and metrics serve different audiences

Assessing the Total Economic Value (TEV) of Ecosystem Services, especially in monetary terms, has played an important role in bringing public attention to the value of nature’s non-market elements. TEV can continue to play such a role in relevant circumstances. In the context of more concrete planning and decision-making situations, however, particularly when informing trade-off decisions, focusing on marginal values of Ecosystem Service change rather than assessing the total values may better respond to audiences’ needs. 

Values and metrics other than economic ones can also be highly relevant to stakeholders and decision-makers, depending on local contexts and the objectives of the processes information is used in. These include, but are not limited to social values (for example safety, livelihoods, health or social cohesion) and cultural values (such as identity, artistic or spiritual values). 

Consequently, it is important to understand the target audience, their association with ecosystem services and their information needs when designing and implementing assessments and valuations. Messages should be thoughtfully crafted and communicated to convey the results of these assessments. 


Credibility matters

Ecosystem Services can be used to support arguments for specific, already existing objectives such as the conservation of a certain area, ecosystem or habitat. To avoid undermining scientific credibility, it is important to reveal such objectives when communicating about Ecosystem Services. Similarly, care should be taken to not ‘oversell’ claims about benefits associated with Ecosystem Services (for example coastal protection from extreme weather events), to avoid later disenchantment of stakeholders and policy- and decision-makers. Further, the usefulness of arguments for conservation based on Ecosystem Services might not work equally well in all circumstances (e.g. conservation of coastal vs. marine habitats). 

Ecosystem Services as a concept is necessarily a reduction of complexity – a fine balance needs to be struck to communicate complexity without losing relevance and tangibility. 


The language of Ecosystem Services creates new connections

When carefully applied in a relatable manner, the concept of Ecosystem Services has the power to bring together decision-makers and scientists from different disciplines. In turn, the resulting exchanges serve to further support the concept itself, as relationships are built and mutual understanding is developed. 

By connecting people and ecosystems, the concept of Ecosystem Services can support the reconcilement of environmental protection and sustainable use with social and economic development – if we speak a language everyone can understand.

MESP Classifieds




Job Description:
The candidate will work with Linwood Pendleton, the International Chair of Excellence at the European Institute of Marine Studies/Laboratory of Excellence of the Sea/Center for Marine Law and Economics/University of West Brittany to build an international research program on policy, management, and economics regarding human uses of the sea and coast.
The work of the International Chair focuses particularly on new and innovative science and policies to help better manage the ecosystem services provided by marine and coastal areas and to better coordinate development, conservation, and management to balance the use of living and non-living resources.  The International Chair is a fundamental contributor to a proposed United Nations University for the Ocean.  Research areas pursued by the International Chair and his team currently include the a Global Environmental Facility project on Blue Forests (i.e. blue carbon) as well as projects that focus on the impacts of ocean acidification, mapping and visualizing ecosystem services, and managing resources in the high seas and deep sea.
Functions:  Under the supervision of the Chair, the successful candidate will lead economic research related to the Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership (MESP) and will be an active member of the Chair’s international team.  Responsibilities will include (but not limited to):
  • Conduct Ecosystem services research:
    • Review the state of the art and provide advice and on-site research for the economic valuation of ecosystem services at partners sites in the Global Environmental Facility Blue Forests Project
    • Work with the interdisciplinary research team to develop conceptual models and analytical models and analysis that assess and monitor the provision of ecosystem services in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas using Earth Observation, Remote Sensing and in situ data, especially social and economic data.
  • Work with the chair to write scholarly and popular articles and presentations
  • Work with the Chair and Team to create an expanded, interdisciplinary vision for the Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership
The successful candidate will report directly to the Chair and will assist the Chair in research, preparation of reports, and development of presentations related to marine ecosystem services. 
The position is a 2 years contractual position with the possibility of renewal.

Candidate Qualifications:
Professional Experience Acquired to Date

  1. a doctoral degree in economics, social science, or interdisciplinary studies with a preferred focus on marine and coastal ecosystem services  and 2 years of research experience.
  2. Candidate should have held a position that includes research and the development of a new program or initiative. 
The candidate should: 
  1. have strong organizational skills.
  2. be able to work independently and should be self-motivated.  The candidate will work closely with the Chair to develop the program and should be able to brainstorm, add value to ideas, and plan and execute actions taken on behalf of the Chair (this is not a post-doctoral research position).
  3. write well in English and should have established at least a modest publication record and should be capable of writing or assisting in the writing of scholarly journal publications.
  4. be available for global travel (<10%) and should enjoy working with collaborators from diverse cultures.
  5. should feel comfortable working in a team that includes a variety of disciplines, faculty, researchers, post-docs, and doctoral students.
The candidate must be fluent in English and have a good command of French.  Other languages are a plus.

The position is based in the Ocean Technopole located Plouzané, France part of the Metropole d’Ocean de Brest.  Perched above the Straits of Brest, the Technopole is a unique, interdisciplinary home to the University of Brest, the European Institute of Marine Studies, the LABEX Mer, IFREMER, and private enterprise. 

To Apply:
Please send a CV or résumé, research paper, policy brief, and a Powerpoint presentation along with a cover letter describing your qualifications and experience before July 10th 2015 to with a cc to .  References will be requested for shortlisted candidates. 


MESP Dives Into 2015, January 16, 2015

Please click on the following link: MESP Dives into 2015

Valuing coastal water quality: Adelaide, South Australia metropolitan area

Hatton MacDonald, D. et al. Marine Policy 52 (2015) 116-124.. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2014.11.003. 2014
Primary Country: Thailand

Recreational Fishing in the British Virgin Islands: Current Status, Opportunities for Development and Constraints

Gillet, C.P. et al. Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) Technical Report No. 3. University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. 35pp 2007
Primary Country: British Virgin Islands

Socio-economic profile of fisheries in the Grenadine Islands

Gill, D. et al. Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) Technical Report No 11. UWI Cave Hill, Barbados. 69pp. 2007
Primary Country: Grenada