Biodiversity: sparring makes us strong

Ecosystem Services Partnership, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

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TEEB Advisory Board, Geneva, Switzerland.

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Natural Capital Coalition, London, UK.

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We strongly object to the tone and content of your discussion on the framing and terminology used to explain the dependence of humans’ wealth, health, happiness and identity on the natural world (see Nature 560, 423–425; 2018). In our view, you magnify the differences of opinion, do not do justice to the respect held for opposing advocates and oversimplify elements of the conversation.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is not in competition with the Ecosystem Services Partnership, of which R.d.G. is chair. Their debate centres on which term best serves to protect and sustainably manage the natural world: ‘ecosystem services’ or ‘nature’s contributions to people’. Both organizations have released statements that they stand united against biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and that they will work together to highlight the importance of biodiversity to human well-being. Irrespective of the terminology used, our community is undivided in our knowledge that we fundamentally depend on nature in countless ways.

Debate between peers is central to scientific progress. Including the widest possible range of opinions, expertise, knowledge systems and evidence in that debate is fundamental to the systemic changes that are needed. Together, we are committed to providing all decision-makers with the best possible data and insights to inform better policies, decisions and actions on the health of the natural world we all depend on.

Nature 561, 309 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-06736-z
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