Ecosystems, Economies and Sustainable Development


Healthy ecosystems are the foundation of human well-being because they provide benefits to people in the form of food, clean water, air, fertile soil and stable coastlines, among other things. They have also been considered “the wealth of the poor”. This fundamental concept linking human well-being to healthy ecosystems is a primary driver behind the Green Economy concept, as developed and promoted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and is crucial to many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In the past, traditional development has focused on economic growth. While this approach has its benefits, it also often comes with social costs – and has almost always resulted in diminished natural resources and ecosystems. However, recent work has begun to incorporate a more comprehensive and holistic approach that recognises the essential role of nature in economic, social and human development,

Main activitiues in 2016

GRID-Arendal’s programme on Ecosystems, Economies and Sustainable Development supports this nature-based approach by:

  • Focusing on the economic, social and cultural values of ecosystems;
  • Providing tools and approaches for integrating ecosystem services into planning processes, as well as highlighting best practice case studies of how these concepts have been applied;
  • Developing policy options and advice on tools, approaches and frameworks for Green Economy and Sustainable Development;
  • Designing innovative financing options for conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems; and
  • Advancing knowledge and experience on the relationship between ecosystems, economies and sustainable development.