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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