July 2015

New Synthesis Paper on Ecosystem Services and Human Health from the EU OpenNESS Project

The EU OpenNESS project (operationalisation of natural capital and ecosystem services in Europe) has published a new Synthesis Paper on the theme of Ecosystem Services and Human Health, as part of the OpenNESS Ecosystem Services Reference Book.  The reference book represents an agreed basis on different topics essential to the OpenNESS project.  It is made up of individual Synthesis Papers (SPs) generated by members of the OpenNESS consortium.

The new synthesis paper on health has been prepared by the COHAB Initiative’s Executive Director, Mr, Conor Kretsch (working at the University of Nottingham) and Dr Hans Keune of the Belgian Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). It outlines key issues surrounding connections between biodiversity, ecosystems services and human health which the OpenNESS members will seek to address over the course of the project.

Drawing on published, peer-reviewed literature, the paper aims to provide a European perspective on several key issues for OpenNESS. This includes exploring why health warrants individual consideration separate from other aspects of human well-being within ecosystem service assessments, and highlighting some of the main areas of health science, policy and practice that may be connected to biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The paper also discusses emerging science and policy issues, and offers suggestions for how concepts of ecosystems services and natural capital may be harnessed to explore issues in human health during the course of the OpenNESS project. Whilst the links between biodiversity and human health are increasingly recognised and evidenced by scientific studies (as with the recent State of Knowledge Review on biodiversity and health published by the CBD and WHO), the OpenNESS project must identify how concepts of ecosystem services and natural capital can add value to current dialogues.

Can these concepts facilitate greater mainstreaming of biodiversity into Europe's health sector? Do they actually add any specific value beyond current understandings of biodievrsity and health? If so, how? What evidence can be used? Conversely, to what degree should issues in public health be factored into biodiversity strategies and action plans?

The Synthesis Paper can be accessed in full (html and downloadable pdf) via the OpenNESS project website.

For further information on the OpenNESS project, visit the project website, or contact the project co-ordination team at SYKE, Finland .












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