New Project - Ecosystem Service: Valuing Nature in the Green Economy

Dr Hayley Stevenson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and Co-Investigator of the project.

The idea of valuing nature in monetary terms has become a core element of international ‘green economy’ agendas of national governments and international institutions like the World Bank and the UN. This has been enabled by the widespread acceptance of the ‘ecosystem services’ concept, which tries to capture the value of the environment in monetary terms. ‘Ecosystem service’ are generally categorised as provisioning services (e.g., food, water, timber, fiber); regulating services (affecting climate, waste, water quality, etc.); cultural services (the recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits derived from nature); and supporting services (e.g., soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling). The focus of this research project will be on the translation of this concept into different policies that allocate a monetary value to nature. As this concept becomes increasingly embedded in development planning and economic policy-making, it is imperative to understand the opportunities it creates for environmental conservation and social development, and its inherent tensions and limitations.

Picture of a river.

The project brings together political scientists from the UK, Canada, and Australia to develop this understanding. The potential for the ‘ecosystem services’ concept to enable transitions to more inclusive and sustainable economies will be assessed through original research on international institutions and four country-level case studies: the UK, Canada, India, and Indonesia. The project will also yield theoretical insights into the relationship between conceptual innovation and institutional change. This project would advance understanding of how new concepts like ecosystem services can lead to lead to new ways of acting and responding to global problems.

Funding body and scheme: Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Sweden) as part of the Europe and Global Challenges funding scheme.
This is a highly competitive scheme - over 180 applications from across Europe were received, and 6-8 projects were funded.

Funds: €800,000 (about £590,000), for three years: 2016-2019

Principal Investigators

  • Dr Hayley Stevenson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of Sheffield.
  • Professor James Meadowcroft is a full Professor in the Department of Political Science and in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University in Ottawa. He also holds a Canada Research Chair in Governance for Sustainable Development.


- United Kingdom

  • Dr Martin Craig is a research fellow in the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI, University of Sheffield).

- Canada

  • Professor Graeme Auld is an Associate Professor at Carleton University, Canada, in the School of Public Policy and Administration, with a cross appointment in the Institute of Political Economy.

- Australia

  • Professor Lorraine Elliott is Professor of International Relations and Public Policy Fellow at The Australian National University (ANU).
  • Dr Timothy Cadman is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow, at Griffith University’s Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law.

For more information please contact Dr Stevenson by email on:

Back to top | Back to News