Governance of Ecosystem Services

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

After following this course, students should be able to: (1) understand
the concept and key elements of ecosystem services and biodiversity
governance; and (2) analyse governance issues and evaluate the strengths
and weaknesses of various policy instruments and organizational
frameworks related to sustainable ecosystem services and biodiversity
management in different contexts.

A profound understanding of the governance of ecosystem services and
biodiversity requires knowledge of the characteristics of ecosystem
services and biodiversity and their users or beneficiaries; available
policy instruments at different governance levels and their
effectiveness in providing ecosystem services and biodiversity
protection; and potential trade-offs between the protection of ecosystem
services and biodiversity and other socio-economic interests at local
community, regional or national sector level.

More specifically, students should be able to:

1. Understand and discuss how financial institutions impact ecosystems
and biodiversity, and how they can mitigate these impacts in their
2. Apply their knowledge of ecosystems services, judge how these
services play a role in the supply chain and communicate how policies in
the supply chain, such as certification, can make the chain more
3. Understand and discuss how Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) can
be designed as to create a sustainable construct for maximizing
ecosystem services at least cost;
4. Understand and describe how marine/terrestrial parks can design a
framework of sustainable financing to have sufficient means available to
manage their resources;
5. Judge how international agreements such as the CBD and CITES are
important instruments to manage transboundary ecosystems and
6. Judge under what conditions, community based management can be
implemented sustainably to manage ecosystems and/or adapt to climate
7. Understand and describe how national policy instruments can be
designed with the purpose to green the agricultural sector.
8. Synthesize the lessons learned during the course for a specific
ecosystem service or biodiversity issue at a certain governance level
(international, national, regional, local) into an paper and a pitch for
an academic audience.

Inhoud vak

The course aims to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of
ecosystems and biodiversity governance by focusing on the relevant
socio-economic, legal, policy and political science perspectives. The
course will elaborate on the multi-dimensional aspects of the governance
of ecosystems and biodiversity, illustrated for different types of
ecosystems and governance structures, varying from local community-based
approaches to Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and global
agreements such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest
Degradation (REDD) and the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The governance of ecosystem services and biodiversity is increasing in
importance. Current governance systems have evolved through policies
developed at national (e.g. protection of wetlands), supranational (e.g.
EU legislation such as Natura2000) and global levels (e.g. Convention on
Biological Diversity). Contrary to the existing literature on the
valuation of ecosystem services, studies on how these values can be best
safeguarded and translated into effective policy measures and incentives
for a sustainable management of ecosystem services are still relatively
scarce. Governing biodiversity and ecosystem services is complicated
because of a number of factors, such as their public good
characteristics, the often unclear distribution of user and property
rights, and high transaction costs of effective enforcement and control.
Also, scientific uncertainty surrounding the relationship between
biodiversity protection, ecosystems and ecosystem services plays a role.
The course will focus on how ecosystems are currently managed, what
policies and policy measures are in place, from self-governance and
regulation to market-based approaches, and what lessons have been
learned so far in developing and implementing different governance
structures at local, national and international level to safeguard the
provision of ecosystem services in the long run.


The course corresponds to 6 ECTS and consists of a combination of
(guest) lectures and interactive sessions over a period of 4 weeks. The
topics will be discussed during the lectures, guest lectures and
interactive sessions which take place three times a week (Monday,
Wednesday and Thursday). We selected one or more book chapters and/or
scientific articles related to the (guest) lecturers’ presentations.

In addition to the (guest) lectures, students will work on a scientific
paper about a topic of their own choice. A list of topics to choose from
will be provided at the beginning of the course. To guide students in
their writing, an interactive session is organized once per week (also
on the first day of the course). The paper is developed and written
during the first 3 weeks of the course and presented in a pitch format
in the fourth week using PowerPoint (or similar). The paper and the
pitch presentations are compulsory and will be graded. More information
about the paper and the pitch is provided below.

The course is spread over 4 weeks, including the week of the final exam.
Classes are scheduled in the first three weeks of the course and,
together with the required reading, paper writing, pitch and exam
preparation, are estimated to account for about 168 hours of students’

Attendance in all classes is mandatory, but will be checked irregularly.
We assume students are sufficiently serious and will show up at every
class, barring unforeseen circumstances. Attending class is likely to
increase your grades for the exam and the paper, so attending classes is
in your own interest.

Indicative division of course hours:
Class attendance 33
Mandatory readings and ‘introduction of lecturers’ 35
Writing paper and preparing presentation 68
Preparing and taking the exam 32

* Standard total time allocated for 6 ECTS


The overall mark for this course is based on three separate grades,

 Closed-book exam (Individual; 40%);
 Short Scientific Paper (Individual; 50%);
 Pitch Presentation (Individual; 10%).
 Introduction of lecturers (Groups; PASS/FAIL)

A necessary condition to pass this course is that all three grades must
be 5.5 or higher and a PASS is obtained for the introduction of
lecturers. The exam has a resit. If a student obtains a grade lower than
5.5 for the paper or the pitch, or a FAIL for the introduction of
lecturers, an individual assessment will be made to determine how the
student can improve his/her grade.

The closed-book exam consists of open questions based on the (guest)
lectures, the book and the papers studied for the course. The exam will
test both your understanding of, and ability to reflect upon the
concepts dealt with during the course. For the exam you should study all
class notes (slides) that are on Canvas as well as the compulsory
literature listed below.

Each student will write a short scientific paper. The aim of the paper
is for students to improve their knowledge and understanding of
ecosystem services and biodiversity governance. Papers should not exceed
3,000 words (excluding references, tables and figures). The main
question that each scientific paper should address is: “For a specific
ecosystem service or biodiversity issue at a certain governance level
(international, national, regional, local): how is the ecosystem or
biodiversity governed and what are the mechanisms used to safeguard the
future provisioning of ecosystem services and protect biodiversity?”

Content of each paper:

a. Clear problem analysis and definition of the ecosystem service or
b. Discussion of the current ecosystem services and/or biodiversity
governance structure at the specified governance scale, including their
legal, institutional, policy and socio-economic context and setting;
c. Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the implemented policy
instruments or governance arrangements in effectively/efficiently
providing or protecting the ecosystem services or biodiversity and the
((in)equitable) involvement of actors and stakeholders at multiple
governance scales;
d. Discussion of the potential trade-offs between ecosystem services or
biodiversity provision and other socio-economic interests involved;
e. Discussion of lessons learned and how the current governance system
could be potentially improved.

A list of research topics will be provided at the first lecture,
although students may also come up with their own ideas providing they
are related to the content of the course. It is important to start fast,
dig into the literature and identify available data, since the course is
compressed in 4 weeks. You are not required to start earlier than the
first day of class, but eager students can request a preliminary list of
topics to be uploaded to Canvas before the course starts (send an email
or Canvas message).

During the pitch presentation on Monday in week 4, students will present
their finding to the coordinators of the course and discuss the
strengths and weaknesses of their analysis. Students prepare their own
presentations and each student also facilitate the class discussion of
another student’s paper.

Finally, groups of 2/3 students are asked to prepare a short pitch style
introduction of the lecturer at the beginning of each class (with or
without slides). In this pitch, the key features of the readings
associated with the lecture are introduced by the students, and these
key features are then briefly related to the topic the (guest) lecturer
will talk about during that class.


See the study manual on Canvas for the latest version! The compulsory
reading list will contain about 15 (up to max. 20) academic papers which
will be closely related to the topics of the guest lecturers (to be read
in advance). If you want to get a better impression of the literature
requirements, please contact the course coordinator for last year’s
study manual.

Furthermore, chapters 1, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12 of "Bouma, J. and P.J.H. van
Beukering. Ecosystem services: from concept to practice. Cambridge
University Press" will be required reading for the (standard) lectures.


MSc students Environmental Resource Management (doctoral students or
other MSc students are also welcome: please contact the course

Aanbevolen voorkennis

Students are encouraged to take the course ‘Value of Ecosystem Services
and biodiversity’ (AM_468024).

Algemene informatie

Vakcode AM_468025
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P3
Vakniveau 400
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Bètawetenschappen
Vakcoördinator dr. P.J.H. van Beukering
Examinator dr. P.J.H. van Beukering
Docenten prof. dr. P.H. Pattberg

Praktische informatie

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