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Projects Economics of natural capital and ecosystem services

The overall goal of our research on the economics of ecosystem services and natural capital is to guide decisions and inform policies on ecosystems and prosperity.

By providing insight into people’s preferences and their values for ecosystem services and natural capital, we aim to help design solutions such as decision-support tools for environmental management and business cases for nature-based solutions.

Below an overview


  • MOVE – Facilitating Mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems and their services to support regional policy in OVerseas Europe: mobilising stakeholders and pooling resources (2018-present)

    IVM is part of a consortium of 14 research institutions implementing the MOVE project, to facilitate mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems and their services (MAES) in Europe’s Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). MOVE is being funded by the DG Environment of the European Commission to support the implementation of Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. MAES is important for the advancement of biodiversity objectives, and also to inform the development and implementation of related policies, on water, climate, agriculture, forest, and regional planning. EU ORs and OCTs are located at distance from continental Europe but their richness in biodiversity is of utmost importance for EU Member States, and therefore, special attention is dedicated to them within MAES through the MOVE project.

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  • Economic valuation of ecosystem services along the Ghanaian coast to support sustainable development (2016-present)

    In this project we value a range of ecosystem services in two locations along the Ghanaian coast. The first location is the urban area of Tema, where we more specifically look into the link between the (currently expanding) port and ecosystem services in order to provide indications on how the port could be designed more sustainably. These efforts are part of the Sustainable Ports in Africa project which incorporates an integrated approach to port design that is stakeholder-inclusive and furthermore also encompasses engineering, ecological and governance aspects besides the by IVM covered economic aspect. 

    The second location is the Volta delta, a rural area that is dealing with substantial erosion issues next to degrading ecosystems on which large parts of the population depends. For this effort we collaborate with IUCN-NL and The Development Institute. Central to this study was the implementation of a household survey in both locations, for which around 1,200 households were interviewed between October 2018 and April 2019. The results of this household survey show that the coastal ecosystem services are highly valued by local populations and we provide guidance on future management practices along the Ghanaian coast, in urban as well as rural contexts. Results of the study are summarized in the policy brief and report that can be accessed via the links below.

    Contact information: Dr Mark Koetse, Prof. Pieter van Beukering or Dr Liselotte Hagedoorn

    Policy Brief: Hagedoorn, L.C., Appeanning Addo, K., Koetse, M., Kinney, K. & van Beukering, P. (2020). Welfare effects of protecting the Volta delta against erosion

    Report: Hagedoorn, L., Kinney, K., van Beukering, P., Adzah, S., Koetse, M., Commodore, T., Appeanning Addo, K., Apom, B., Simons, H. & Kamstra, J. (2020). Economicvaluation of ecosystem
    services at the Ghanaian coast.

  • Enhancing ecosystem services for policy- and decision-making – ESMERALDA (2015-present)

    ESMERALDA's flexible methodology on mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services contributes to protecting the planet's ecological services. The objective of ESMERALDA is to share experience through an active process of dialogue and knowledge co-creation that will enable participants to achieve the aims of Action 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. ESMERALDA created innovative strategies to facilitate European national and regional mapping for the effective assessment of ecosystems and their services. The project contributes to healthy ecosystems, which help mitigate the impacts of climate change, while supporting a green economy, creating job opportunities and enhancing biodiversity. ESMERALDA receives funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.  

    Contact information: Prof. Pieter van Beukering.


  • Co-creating resIlient and susTaInable food systEms towardS FOOD2030 (CITIES2030) (2020-2024)

    Urban food systems and ecosystems (UFSE) demand immediate action. The main goal of CITIES2030 is to create a future-proof and effective UFSE via a connected structure centred around the citizen, built on trust, and with partners encompassing the entire UFSE. CITIES2030 commits to working towards the transformation and restructuring of the way systems produce, transport and supply, recycle and reuse food in the 21st century. CITIES2030 vision is to connect short food supply chains, gathering cities and regions, consumers, strategic and complement industry partners, the civil society, promising start-ups and enterprises, innovators and visionary thinkers, leading universities and research across the vast diversity of disciplines addressing UFSE, including food science, social science and big data. CITIES2030 actively encourages the participation of citizens, moving consumers from being passive recipients to active engagement and motivated change agents.

    Contact information: Dr Mark Koetse.

  • Transitie naar een Duurzaam Voedselsysteem

    Current production and consumption of food have come at alarming environmental and health costs (e.g. nitrogen crisis, unhealthy diets). In cooperation with food system stakeholders, this project explores the characteristics of sustainable food systems, and pathways to accelerate transition to a healthy and sustainable food system in the Netherlands.

    Contact information: Dr Mark Koetse.

  • Trade liberalisation and biodiversity (2019-2021)

    The aim of the EU-DG Environment funded project Trade Liberalisation and Biodiversity was to provide a methodological framework for assessing the impact of EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) on biodiversity. The methodology outlines a stepwise process on how to set up and carry out an assessment of the impacts of trade liberalisation on biodiversity in a structured and consistent manner, with a special focus on quantifying the impacts. The methodology is designed to be implemented as part of the Commission’s overall trade impact assessment process, both before and/or during the trade negotiations (ex-ante) and when trade agreements are in place (ex-post). It is flexible to be used in the context of various types of agreements and partner countries. In this project IVM cooperated with the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), Trinomics, and the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). 

    Contact information: Dr Onno Kuik and Dr Žiga Malek

    Report: IEEP, Trinomics, IVM and UN Environment WCMC (2021). Methodology for assessing the impacts of trade agreements on biodiversity and ecosystems. Service contract for the European Commission (No 07.0202/2019/812941/SER/ENV.D.2), Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), Brussels/London. (under embargo till 15 April 2021).

  • Ecosystem services assessment of the Simpson Bay Lagoon, Saint Martin (2019)

    Similar to many other Caribbean coastal wetlands, the Simpson Bay Lagoon in Saint Martin suffers from heavy development, wastewater pollution, and overexploitation. To show the environmental, societal, and economic importance of the Simpson Bay Lagoon, three scientific assessments have been conducted over the period March 2019 to June 2019, respectively focussing on the three pillars of the Triple Bottom Line – Planet, People & Profit. Central in these three studies was the implementation of a household survey in Saint Martin, in which 219 households were interviewed about how they perceive and value the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The results of the three studies signify that the rehabilitation of the lagoon’s ecosystem would greatly benefit the long-term economic, environmental, and social wellbeing of Saint Martin. 

    Contact information: Prof. Pieter van Beukering and Sem Duijndam

    Client: This report was commissioned by Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC),

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  • Haringvliet the dynamic delta (2018-2019)

    With the Dream Fund project (i.e. Droomfondsproject) Haringvliet six nature organizations invest in Haringvliet’s nature, landscape and recreational infrastructure. The idea behind this project is that a simultaneous improvement of the natural environment of Haringvliet and its recreational use benefits the local economy and regional quality of life. The Institute for Environmental Studies, Blueconomy and Wageningen University jointly address the question: “What are the societal benefits of the Haringvliet dream fund project and can these benefits be increased in the future through far-reaching nature and recreational development of the area? To answer this question, this study evaluated three future scenarios for the Haringvliet area on their effects on the Triple Bottom Line (i.e. Planet, People, and Profit).  

    Contact information: Prof. Pieter van Beukering.

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