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The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Project

2005 sees the output of much of the information collated and synthesised by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), an enormous project launched in 2001. Many of the reports are published first (and sometimes only) in electronic form. These can be found at the MA website:

A summary of the report structure is given at the bottom of this page. MA's publishing partners are the World Resources Institute, and Island Press. The first printed volume was published by Island in late 2003, "Ecosystems and Human Well-being: A Framework for Assessment." This is available from NHBS at

In autumn 2005, 'Synthesis Reports' and 'Global Assessment Reports' will be published in hard copy by Island Press, and will be available from NHBS. Individual details for each volume will be added to as they become known.

About the MA (from the MA website):

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is an international work program that was designed to meet the needs of decision makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes.

The MA was launched by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in June 2001 and was completed in 2005. It will help meet assessment needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention on Migratory Species, as well as needs of other users in the private sector and civil society. If the MA proves to be useful to its stakeholders, it is anticipated that an assessment process modeled on the MA will be repeated every 5-10 years and that ecosystem assessments will be regularly conducted at national or sub-national scales.

The MA focuses on ecosystem services (the benefits people obtain from ecosystems), how changes in ecosystem services have affected human well-being, how ecosystem changes may affect people in future decades, and response options that might be adopted at local, national, or global scales to improve ecosystem management and thereby contribute to human well-being and poverty alleviation. The specific issues being addressed by the assessment have been defined through consultation with the MA users.

The MA is intended to be used:

to identify priorities for action;
as a benchmark for future assessments;
as a framework and source of tools for assessment, planning, and management;
to gain foresight concerning the consequences of decisions affecting ecosystems;
to identify response options to achieve human development and sustainability goals;
to help build individual and institutional capacity to undertake integrated ecosystem assessments and act on the findings; and
to guide future research.
The MA synthesizes information from the scientific literature, datasets, and scientific models, and makes use of knowledge held by the private sector, practitioners, local communities and indigenous peoples. All of the MA findings underwent rigorous peer review.

The MA is governed by a Board comprised of representatives of international conventions, UN agencies, scientific organizations and leaders from the private sector, civil society, and indigenous organizations. A 13-member Assessment Panel of leading social and natural scientists oversees the technical work of the assessment supported by a secretariat with offices in Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa and coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme. More than 1350 authors from 95 countries were involved in four expert working groups to prepare the global assessment and hundreds more are undertaking more than 30 sub-global assessments.

In response to lessons from previous international assessments and in light of unique features of ecosystems and their management, the MA was designed as a multi-scale assessment and has established mechanisms to incorporate information and knowledge from non-peer-reviewed sources including local and traditional knowledge. As a multi-scale assessment, the MA consists of interlinked assessments undertaken at local, watershed, national, regional and global scales.

About MA reports (from the MA website):

The MA synthesizes information from the scientific literature and relevant peer-reviewed datasets and models. It incorporates knowledge held by the private sector, practitioners, local communities, and indigenous peoples. The MA did not aim to generate new primary knowledge, but instead sought to add value to existing information by collating, evaluating, summarizing, interpreting, and communicating it in a useful form.

The are several types of reports on the MA findings that will be available starting in March 2005:

Board Statement. The Board of Directors governing the MA process developed an interpretation of the key messages to emerge from the assessment.
Synthesis Reports. The first set of products presenting the findings of the assessment consists of one over-arching synthesis and 5 others that interpret the MA findings for specific audiences. The MA, World Resources Institute, and Island Press will publish these reports.
Global Assessment Reports. The second set of reports to be released will be the technical volumes of the Working Groups on Condition and Trends, Scenarios, Policy Responses, and Multiscale (Sub-global) Assessments. A summary volume will also be available. These will be published by Island Press.
Sub-global Assessment Reports. A third set of reports, comprised of about 32 official and associated sub-global assessments will be released from late 2005 to 2006, and will be published by the sub-global assessment teams themselves. Reports on the assessment of southern Africa were released in September 2004.
Conceptual Framework. In late 2003, the MA and Island Press published "Ecosystems and Human Well-being: A Framework for Assessment." The book lays out the assumptions, processes and parameters that were used in the MA.

Publisher: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Project

Forthcoming volumes in this series will be added to this page as soon as we become aware of them.

Please contact about setting up a standing order, or if you would like to be notified when we add new volumes.

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