SNAPP TEAM:Making Ecosystems Count
How do changes to the natural environment impact food security, livelihoods, and other aspects of human well-being?

Ecosystem services contribute greatly to human well-being, especially in developing countries. Understanding how natural resource management affects food security and public health is vital for policy makers to make informed decisions about sustainable development. The team developed indicators for the natural resource-related United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and tested them in the Nile, Volta, and Niger River basins.


OUR APPROACH: The team integrated existing ecosystem service tools to develop a comprehensive tool (“MESH”) that measures the impact of development projects or land use changes on human well-being. With this tool, decision makers can better understand the ecological and human welfare outcomes of development activities, and better monitor impacts as they work towards SDGs.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenge: Social Innovations

Mapping Ecosystem Services to Human well-being (MESH) Tool
MESH is an interactive tool that shows tradeoffs between environmental protection and human well-being related to SDGs under different landscape management scenarios. Specifically, MESH generates SDG outputs and indicators related to food security (SDG 2), health (SDG 3), water (SDG 6), sustainable cities (SDG 11), climate (SDG 13), and conservation of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15). Decision makers can use these reports to understand the conservation policies that can yield significantly greater environmental value while still meeting SDGs.



“Food security goals often run counter to environmental protection goals. MESH enables policy makers to use scientific models of ecosystem services to minimize this type of tradeoff.”

– Justin Johnson, Team Member

Key Products
Ecosystems and human well-being in the Sustainable Development Goals

In this guest editorial in the Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, authors discuss the importance of incorporating environment and human well-being synergies into the post‐2015 SDGs.

Distilling the role of ecosystem services in the Sustainable Development Goals

This peer-reviewed paper in Ecosystem Services explores expert survey results on how 16 different ecosystem services contribute to the 41 targets related to the SDGs.

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David Cleary
The Nature Conservancy
Fabrice DeClerck
EAT Foundation (formerly Bioversity International)
Ben Ampomah
Ghana Water Resources Commission
Sandy Andelman
Vital Signs
Brian Belcher
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Kate Brauman
University of Minnesota
Karen Brooks
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Julian Chow
United Nations
Sandra Corsi
Bioversity International
Ehsan Dulloo
Bioversity International
Alex Fremier
University of Idaho
Marie De Lattre Gasquet
CGAIR Consortium
Evan Girvetz
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Line Gordon
Stockholm Resilience Center
Valentin Iogo
Volta Basin Authority
Sarah Jones
Bioversity International
Carrie Kappel
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), University of California, Santa Barbara
Peter Kareiva
University of California, Los Angeles
Birungi Korutaro
Kilimo Trust (Tanzania)
Becky Chaplin Kramer
Stanford University
Lisa Mandle
Stanford University
Mark Mulligan
King's College London
Ben Nemser
United Nations
Andrew Noble
Water Land and Ecosystems
Patrick O’Farrel
Joseph Osiakwan
Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources
Anita Regmi
Bioversity International
William Colby Smith
University of Minnesota
Camilla Tanzaniani
Bioversity International
Boro Toro
Direction Generale des Ressource d'eau (Burkina Faso)
Sylvia Wood
Columbia University; Bioversity International
Raphael Yeboah
Ghana Forestry Commission
Adophe Zangre
Burkina Faso Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
Wei Zhang
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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