Why do ecosystems matter?

In Ecosystems and Biodiversity

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) believes in the power of integrated ecosystem management, which aims to sustain ecosystems to meet both ecological and human needs.

This approach is responsive to new information and changing requirements, and it integrates social, environmental and economic perspectives.

We work with communities, businesses and governments around the world to promote a transition away from narrow, single-goal approaches and towards holistic and collaborative ecosystem management. In doing so, we help to ensure that ecosystems around the world are able to meet multiple objectives – from the provision of food, water and energy to biodiversity protection and job creation.

What is an ecosystem?

An ecosystem includes all living things in a given area, as well as their interactions with each other, and with their non-living environments (weather, earth, sun, soil, climate, atmosphere). Each organism has a role to play and contributes to the health and productivity of the ecosystem as a whole.

What is integrated ecosystem management?

Integrated ecosystem management aims to sustain ecosystems to meet both ecological and human needs. Ecosystem management is responsive to changing needs and new information. It promotes a shared vision of desired outcomes by integrating social, environmental and economic perspectives into managing our ecological foundation.

UNEP fosters the transition towards integrated ecosystem management by strengthening six of the key building blocks for ensuring that ecosystem management can meet the needs of both current and future generations:

  • Put in place the essential infrastructure to guarantee the long-term health and functioning of ecosystems;
  • Integrate the socioeconomic value of ecosystems into economic and development decision-making;
  • Establish collaboration across sectors to reconcile competing ecosystem-related demands and interdependencies;
  • Ensure that public sector economic decision-making supports healthy and productive ecosystems;
  • Incorporate the health and productivity of ecosystems in private sector business decisions; and
  • Equip future professionals and decision-makers with the know-how to deliver human well-being in harmony with nature.
In Ecosystems and Biodiversity