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Facilitated panel on Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services: Status of the science and evolving policy

24 October 2023 10:00–11:30 AEST | Berg Seminar room LVL 6, in Kirby Institute / Wallace Worth building, UNSW Sydney & Virtual


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that “social and economic development depends on the sustainable management of our planet’s natural resources”, which are underpinned by biodiversity, and healthy and resilient ecosystems. Measuring and managing ecosystems is increasingly framed through the concepts of “natural capital” and “ecosystem services”, which highlight the interdependencies between society and the economy with nature.

International momentum to acknowledge, protect and value natural capital, while integrating natural capital considerations into economic and financial decision-making, is growing. Commitments may be found within the Sustainable Development Goals, Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and commitments of the seventeen (17) Heads of Government represented on the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (including Australia). The New South Wales (NSW) Government, through the NSW Natural Capital Statement of Intent, recognizes the importance of a healthy environment to deliver on economic, environmental, social and cultural outcomes for the people of NSW. The statement explains and helps expand NSW's role as a responsible steward of natural assets through the delivery of conservation and environmental market policies and programs. It also empowers us to embed the value of our environment into NSW policies, plans and investments.

Universities, as the primary driver of fundamental ecosystem research, play a key role in progressing the science underpinning our understanding of natural capital and ecosystem services.

A robust and transparent evidence-base for natural capital and ecosystem services could be accelerated through coordination and collaboration between Government institutions and Universities.

Purpose and Agenda

The purpose of this facilitated panel was to strengthen mutual awareness and planning between academia and initiatives of the NSW Government, concerning knowledge generation and operationalization of natural capital and ecosystem services, recognising the critical role of universities in fundamental research.

The discussions built on the established links between UNSW and NSW Government, to identify and explore the state of the science underpinning natural capital and ecosystem services, and the evolution of related policy initiatives. The event featured an informal panel dialogue between academics at various career stages (early career researcher to professor) and representatives from NSW Government, followed by facilitated, open discussion to share experiences and identify opportunities for strategic collaboration.



Recording of the facilitated panel, 24 October 2023.

Organizing partners

The panel is hosted by the School of Global and Public Law & Faculty of Science at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Panel members (left to right) Prof. Angela Moles, Dr Ben Milligan, Prof. Paul Gribben, Mr Mladen Kovac and Dana Lanceman with panel facilitator, Dr Jordan Gacutan.