Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was initiated in 2001, under the leadership of the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and to develop a series of possible solutions. The conservation and sustainable use of the Earth's ecosystems was the second part of this Assessment.
Nearly 1.360 experts have participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The findings provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide (such as clean water, food, forest products, flood control and natural resources) and the options to restore, conserve or enhance the sustainable use of ecosystems.
Some human actions are degrading the Earth's ecosystems and depleting its resources. A more sustainable world requires changes in policies and strategies.
- Over the last 50 years (1955-2005) humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than during any other comparable period of time in humanity's history. Growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel are the drivers of this change and the loss in the diversity of life appears irreversible.
- Changes in ecosystems have contributed to net gains in human well-being and economic development, but at a huge cost. Degradation of ecosystem services and the exacerbation of poverty for some groups of people are among the externalities that need to be addressed for the sake of future generations.
- The degradation of ecosystems is an obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
- Significant changes in policies, institutions and practices are needed to reverse ecosystem degradation. Options exist to conserve or enhance specific ecosystem services in ways that reduce negative trade-offs or that provide positive synergies with other ecosystem services.