Framing Debates about Poverty Reduction and Ecosystem Services


In an important paper in Science ten years ago Adams and colleagues offered an analysis that clarified the confused debate that had arisen about the relationship between conservation policy and poverty reduction. The value of that paper was to hold up a mirror to a divided intellectual and policy-making constituency. It became a heuristic device shaping debates and defining research programmes.

This two-year project, led by the University of Sheffield, was set to develop a new mirror upon which curent debates around ecosystem services and poverty alleviation could be looked at. We engaged with different epistemic communities working in ecosystem services and poverty reduction to refine and clarify two issues. First, to identify the nature of the most significant disagreements, conceptually and empirically, and the key cleavages between different positions. Second, to identify and prioritise which of these tasks are most important. In mapping out both empirical and epistemological disputes, we also identified important questions that are not being asked in current debates and, subsequently, attempt to set the research agenda for work on poverty and ecosystem services over the next decade.

The key findings of this project have been so far published in the publication below, and two other publications are currently (June 2019) in preparation.


Project dates

 November 2015 - October 2017


 View site

Research area


  • Ecosystem Services
  • Poverty
  • Development
  • Discourses
  • Networks

Team members

ICREA Research Professor
Postdoctoral Researcher
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