Guidance for engendering ecosystem services for urban transformation

Sarah Bradshaw, Brian Linneker, Nilo Nascimento, Indira Nahomi Viana Caballero, Heloisa Costa, Yumi Oki, Rogerio Brittes W. Pires, Meri Juntti, Lian Lundy, Ken Scott-Brown, Rebecca Wade

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    Growing urbanisation and climate change present a number of important challenges to ensuring more sustainable development in the future. All human activities impact on the natural environment, especially cities. How urban development is undertaken and managed has implications for present and future wellbeing. This guidance focusses on how natural capital and its associated ecosystem services (ES) can be understood within the context of the urban environment. It focuses on how different ES can be incorporated into sustainable urban development and planning, as a natural asset that can reduce peoples risk and vulnerability, and improve their wellbeing.

    This summary guidance aims to highlight how natural capital based ES can be seen as an ‘asset’ which can improve the well-being of communities, and the women and men, girls and boys that live within them.

    It draws on existing findings about how environmental assets such as parks, street trees, water features and private gardens can contribute to human well-being, applied to the Brazilian context through an exploratory study centred in Nova Contagem, a peripheral suburb of Belo Horizonte.

    It uses experience of undertaking the study to provide practical guidance in how to:
    -Undertake an assessment of the environmental assets present in a community
    -Evaluate the potential for urban environmental assets to yield ecosystem services - services such as Regulating (cooling shade), Provisioning (food and fuel), and Cultural (space for gathering / taking exercise) - and the nature of the goods, benefits, and at times dis-benefits, natural capital assets deliver

    The findings of the study provide guidance around:
    -How people understand what the environment is, and how they value, or not, different types of urban environmental assets
    -The ecosystem services and dis-services they derive from the natural environment
    -How environmental assets interact with other assets to improve well being

    The premise of the study is that access to urban environmental assets and the ecosystem services they provide, is not equal for all within a community or a household, and in particular women and men will have different access to these and other assets. The study then also provides insights into:
    -Differences in women and men’s understandings of the environment and its potential for improving well being
    -Differences in women and men’s access to environmental assets and the ecosystem services they may provide
    -Actions that could be taken to improve gender equality of access to ecosystem services

    Ultimately the guide seeks to provide recommendations on what local authorities and community organisations can do to ensure that the existing environmental assets are valued and protected and the beneficial services are maximised and made accessible to all, while the dis-services are minimised.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherMiddlesex University, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Abertay University
    Number of pages30
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


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