Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA)

Tea plantation

Three organisations - NERC, the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DfID) - have joined forces for a multi-disciplinary £40·5 million research programme on Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA).

ESPA aims to deliver high quality and cutting-edge research that will deliver improved understanding of how ecosystems function, the services they provide, the full value of these services, and their potential role in achieving sustainable poverty reduction. ESPA research will provide the evidence and tools to enable decision makers and end users to manage ecosystems sustainably and in a way that contributes to poverty reduction.

ESPA Announcement of Opportunity: 2016 grants

Closing date: 17 May
2016

9 Mar 2016

The ESPA-2016 Grants call is for research synthesis projects designed to significantly advance global understanding on the way that ecosystem services contribute to poverty alleviation.


1 2

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment showed that the loss of services from ecosystems is a significant barrier to reducing poverty, hunger and disease.

Tackling this set of problems requires:

  • environmental science to understand why ecosystems are becoming degraded, and how to reverse this
  • ecological economics to better value the services
  • political economy (a combination of economics, law and political science) to ascertain what institutional changes are needed in order to equally distribute the costs and benefits of improved ecosystem management to the poor.

Three organisations - NERC, the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) - have joined forces to deliver a £40·5 million research programme on Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA). The ESPA programme was launched as part of the Living With Environmental Change - external link partnership.

ESPA aims to deliver high quality and cutting-edge research that will deliver improved understanding of how ecosystems function, the services they provide, the full value of these services, and their potential role in achieving sustainable poverty reduction. ESPA research will provide the evidence and tools to enable decision makers and end users to manage ecosystems sustainably and in a way that contributes to poverty reduction.

To achieve this ESPA research will seek to address some of the critical evidence challenges faced by policy and decision makers, such as:

  • What values do ecosystem services hold and for whom?
  • What drivers are degrading and/or preventing realisation of the values provided by ecosystem services, and how can we better manage prevailing trends?
  • What are the most critical dynamics and processes that influence the provision of ecosystem services in the context of poverty alleviation?
  • How can we safeguard ecosystem service values of particular importance to the poor?
  • How can we manage ecosystem services sustainably, and realise more out of their values, for poverty alleviation and growth?

The ESPA programme will predominantly work in four regions of the world that experience significant challenges in managing their ecosystem services in the context of poverty reduction and sustainable growth, these are:

  • south Asia
  • China
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • Amazonia.

Four regional and two thematic situation analyses informed the development of the programme, providing evidence identifying key regional ecosystem services challenges and proposing ways to best address these challenges through research to alleviate poverty. The analyses were performed by consortia of researchers from the region, the UK and elsewhere in collaboration with national governments and local partners.

A number of research themes were identified that represented common findings of the situation analyses. These themes describe some of the key components of the ESPA research landscape:

  • Water: impacts of climate variability and other changes on ecosystem services that underpin the water cycle and water security.
  • Health: ecosystem services, disease ecology and human well-being.
  • Forests: forests, land use change and ecosystem services.
  • Biodiversity: biodiversity and ecosystem services - ensuring a sustainable flow of goods and services to enhance human well-being.
  • Coasts: strengthening the management of coastal ecosystems to support sustained ecosystem service delivery for reduced poverty and vulnerability in coastal zones.
  • Political Economy: the political economy needed for sustainable management of ecosystem services for poverty reduction and sustainable growth.

Timing

Appraisal & design phase: 2007 - 2008
Research programme: 2009 - 2016

Can I apply for a grant?

Details of the current calls - external link - are available on the ESPA website.

Budget

£40·5 million

Programme Awards

Situation Analyses

During the appraisal and design phase the programme commissioned the following Situation Analyses to inform the design of the research programme.

The objectives of the situation analyses were:

  1. to collect and analyse evidence on
    1. the ecosystem services most important to the wellbeing of the poor
    2. the main challenges to the ecosystems that provide these services
    3. the key ecosystem management functions for maximising poverty alleviation
  2. identify how these challenges can best be addressed through research to provide poverty alleviation outcomes
  3. to conduct an information and knowledge needs assessment with policymakers and other stakeholders involved in ecosystem management
  4. assess the need for skills and knowledge exchanges to strengthen the capacity of regional research providers and research output users
  5. present the analysis to a regional peer group and develop findings based on feedback and collective reflection.

View the funded Situation Analyses consortiums and the Situation Analyses reports in the Resources section below.

Strengthening research capacity

Proposals were invited for activities to strengthen research capacity to tackle the complex problems associated with the sustainable management of ecosystems for poverty reduction.

Evaluation panel membership (PDF, 47KB)

Partnership and project development

Grants provide catalyst funding in preparation for submitting a proposal for a larger Research Consortium grant.

28 partnership and project development projects were funded. This is shown as 36 grants (where some were joint awards).

Partnership and project development funded projects (PDF, 21KB)

Programme framework

Grants provide funding for shorter-term, innovative, conceptual development type projects.

18 programme framework projects were funded. This is shown as 23 grants (where some were joint awards).

Programme framework funded projects (PDF, 16KB)

Consortium grants

The ESPA consortia projects are major projects with a duration of up to five years. These projects will form a major part of the ESPA research portfolio, and will provide significant new knowledge on the relationship between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation.

Three Consortium grants were funded. This is shown as 18 grants (where all were joint awards).

Consortium funded projects (PDF, 29KB)

ESPA 2012 grants

The ESPA 2012 projects will generate new data and knowledge from integrated studies of a wide range of ecosystem services. These projects are specifically focused on understanding how ecosystems function to provide services in multi-functional landscapes so that they can better support enhanced multidimensional well-being of poor people in low-income countries. This requires detailed in situ studies of ecosystems, their functions and processes, the goods and services that emerge, and the governance and decision-making processes involved.

Six grants were funded. This is shown as 22 grants (where some were joint awards).

ESPA 2012 funded projects (PDF, 67KB)

ESPA 2013 grants

The ESPA 2013 projects are designed to enhance the academic and development impact of the ESPA programme by filling significant gaps in the ESPA portfolio and, where possible, capturing emerging opportunities. These projects cover one of three research themes from empirical, inter-/multi-disciplinary projects that are addressing a range of ecosystem services and associated benefits, and are linked to a multi-dimensional analysis of poverty and the ways that poor people can move out of poverty.

The three research themes are: 'Sustainable, ecosystem-based pathways out of poverty/routes out of poverty'; 'Ecosystem services and the urban environment'; and 'Building on ESPA success'.

Eleven grants were funded. This is shown as 18 grants (where some were joint awards).

ESPA 2013 funded projects (PDF, 36KB)

ESPA 2014 grants

The ESPA-2014 Grants call was for 'blue skies' research projects designed to significantly advance global understanding on the way that ecosystem services contribute to poverty alleviation, with specific emphasis on generating new understanding that can benefit poor people in low-income countries (LICs). Research funded under ESPA-2014 is expected to inform thinking and practice over, at least, the next decade, representing a step-change in the knowledge and evidence that will underpin future activities in ESPA's sphere of activity.

Five grants were funded. This is shown as 11 grants (where some were joint awards).

ESPA 2014 funded projects (PDF, 240KB)

Live grants data

Award details are shown in our online grants browser - Grants on the Web - external link

Please note that, as GOTW is linked to our live grants system, if there are amendments being made to a grant, it will not be shown on the GOTW list during this period of amendment.

Amazon/Andes region

Consortium director: Dr Roberto Porro, Amazon Initiative Consortium for Conservation & Sustainable Resource Use, Brazil
Partners: Dr Silvia Benitez, The Nature Conservancy, USA
Dr Jorge Rubiano, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia
Dr Mark Mulligan, King's College London, UK
Dr Luis German Naranjo, WWF, Colombia
Dr Andy Jarvis, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, Colombia

Period of Award: 13.08.07 - 12.03.08
Value: £250,580

Semiarid sub-Saharan Africa region

Consortium director: Prof Christo Fabricius, Khanya-African Institute for Community-Driven Development

Partners: Prof Charlie Shackleton, Rhodes University, South Africa
Kees Vogt, SOS-Sahel International-CRAC-GRN, Niger
Michael Mortimer, Drylands Research
Ivan Bond, International Institute for Environment & Development, UK
Mark Smith, World Conservation Union (IUCN), Switzerland

Period of Award: 13.08.07 - 12.03.08
Value: £249,910

China region

Consortium director: Prof Zhang Li-Jian, Chinese Academy for Agricultural Science

Partners: Prof Ma Zonglin, Ningxia Centre for Environment and Poverty Alleviation, China
Prof Wu Zhandong, Ningxia Development and Reform Commission, China
Dr Neville Ash, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UK
Dr Loke Wai Hong, CAB International, Malaysia
Dr Christine Tam, Stanford University (The Natural Capital Project), USA
Dr Andrew Challinor, Walker Institute for Climate Systems Research at the University of Reading, UK

Period of Award: 10.09.07 - 09.04.08
Value: £266,971

India Hindu Kush Himalaya region

Consortium director: Dr RK Pachauri, The Energy & Resources Institute, India

Partners: Dr Lucy Emerton, World Conservation Union (IUCN), Sri Lanka
Prof Ed Maltby, Institute for Sustainable Water, Integrated Management and Ecosystem Research (SWIMMER) at the University of Liverpool, UK
Dr Imran Matin, BRAC University, Bangladesh
Dr Shaheen Khan, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan

Period of Award: 06.08.07 - 05.03.08
Value: £254,977

Thematic Situation Analyses

Urban/rural interactions: the desakota assessment

Consortium director: Dipak Gyawali, Institute for Social & Environmental Transition-Nepal, Nepal

Partners: Dr Marcus Moench, Institute for Social and Environmental Transition, USA
Dr Daanish Mustafa, King's College London, UK

Period of Award: 01.10.07 - 30.04.08
Value: £294,739

Marine and coastal assessment

Consortium director: Professor Katrina Brown, Overseas Development Group/School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, UK;

Partners: Dr Edward Allison, World Fish Center, Penang, Malaysia
Dr Graham Pilling, CEFAS, UK
Professor Rudy van der Elst, Oceanographic Research Institute, Durban, South Africa
Dr Tim McClanahan, Coral Reef Conservation Project, Mombasa, Kenya
Dr Ida Siason, University of the Philippines-Visayas, Philippines
Mrs Nguyen Thu Hue, The Centre for Marinelife Conservation & Community Development, Vietnam

Period of Award: 18.02.08 - 17.09.08
Value: £249,415

Details of assessment panel membership

ESPA panel membership (PDF, 17KB)

The governance of the ESPA programme encompasses a number of different bodies which undertake different roles. These bodies and their relationships are shown in the programme governance structure diagram below.

ESPA programme governance structure diagram (PDF, 31KB)

The terms of reference for the governance of the programme can be found below.

ESPA programme governance terms of reference (PDF, 200KB)

ESPA's Logical Framework document is available on the Toolkit page of the ESPA website - external link

Programme Executive Board

The Programme Executive Board is responsible for the delivery and strategic direction of the programme, ensuring it achieves its stated objectives and meets the strategic needs of the funding partners (DFID, NERC and ESRC). The funding partners are the decision making executives, with other executives operating in an advisory capacity.

  • Steve Bass, International Institute for Environment & Development (Chair)
  • Andrew Clayton, Department for International Development
  • Craig Bardsley, Economic & Social Research Council
  • Simon Kerley, Natural Environment Research Council

Programme Management Unit

The Programme Management Unit (PMU) is responsible for the overall management, coordination and delivery of the programme on a day to day basis. The PMU consists of the Programme Management Group, the Secretariat and the Directorate.

Programme Management Group

The Programme Management Group (PMG) consists of members of the three funding partners with the authority to make decisions regarding the management and operations of the programme on non-strategic matters. The PMG is accountable to the PEB.

  • Kevin Leitch, Department for International Development
  • Beth Woodward, Natural Environment Research Council
  • Charlotte McEvoy, Economic & Social Research Council

Secretariat

The Secretariat is based at the Natural Environment Research Council, which is responsible for the management of the programme on behalf of the funding partners. This includes financial management, procurement and grant awarding, which are carried out according the policies and procedures of the research councils and the Shared Services Centre (which supports the research councils' activities).

  • Maria Kirrane
  • Natalie Clark

Directorate

The Directorate is based at the University of Edinburgh and is responsible for leading on the implementation of ESPA activities (except for the grants awarding process), ensuring the coordination of all ESPA activities, and undertaking other activities which add value to the programme. The Director will provide the overall intellectual leadership for the programme and act as the de facto head of the programme (except in terms of financial management) under the authority of the PEB.

  • Professor Paul van Gardingen, University of Edinburgh (Director)

International Programme Advisory Committee

The International Programme Advisory Committee (I-PAC) will provide independent advice to the programme, as required, in relation to strategic and technical aspects of the programme.

  • Atiq Rahman, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (Co-Chair)
  • Kate Brown, University of East Anglia (Co-Chair)
  • John Adeoti, Nigerian Institute of Social & Economic Research (NISER)
  • Christo Fabricious, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Resilience Alliance
  • Janet Ranganathan, World Resources Institute
  • Frances Seymour, Immediate past Director General of CIFOR
  • Virgílio Viana, Amazonas Sustainable Foundation

ESPA Programme Memorandum (PDF, 347KB)

Situation Analysis Final Reports

Please note that many of these files are very large (up to 25MB), so you are advised to download them only on a high speed internet connection.

China

Final Report China - report (PDF, 6.8MB)

Final Report China - annex (PDF, 8.1MB)

Final Report China - Ningxia case study (PDF, 1.5MB)

Semi-arid sub-Saharan Africa

Final Report Africa - report (PDF, 1.7MB)

Amazon basin & Andean catchment

Final Report Amazon - main report large version (PDF, 15.4MB)

Final Report Amazon - main report compressed version (PDF, 2.8MB)

Final Report Amazon - annexes (PDF, 4.1MB)

India-Hindu Kush-Himalayas

Final Report India HKH - main report (PDF, 14.7MB)

Final Report India HKH - Annex cover (PDF, 277KB)

Final Report India HKH - Annex A Discussion Paper (PDF, 606KB)

Final Report India HKH - Annex B Country Reports (PDF, 4.8MB)

Final Report India HKH - Annex C Workshop Reports (PDF, 2.6MB)

Desakota

Final Report Desakota Part I (PDF, 4.6MB)

Final Report Desakota Part II A Reinterpreting Urban Rural continuum (PDF, 1MB)

Final Report Desakota Part II B Vulnerability disasters and poverty (PDF, 128KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II C Natural Science Review (PDF, 4.5MB)

Final Report Desakota Part II D Social Science Literature Review (PDF, 580KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II E1 Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Literature (PDF, 9.9MB)

Final Report Desakota Part II E2 China Regional Literature Review (PDF, 4MB)

Final Report Desakota Part II E3 Amazon Andes Regional Literature Review (PDF, 1.2MB)

Final Report Desakota Part II F1 Case Study Bangladesh (PDF, 102KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II F2 Case Study Gujarat India (PDF, 289KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II F3 Case Study Nepal-India (PDF, 267KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II F4 Case Study Pakistan (PDF, 364KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II G1 Case Study Mwanza SSA (PDF, 156KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II G2 Case Study Miyun China (PDF, 271KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II G3 Case Study Andes (PDF, 179KB)

Final Report Desakota Part II G4 Case Study Peruvian Amazon (PDF, 332KB)

Marine & Coastal

Marine and Coastal - Synthesis Report (PDF, 1.2MB)

Marine SA Appendix 1 Global Assessment (PDF, 6.2MB)

Marine SA Appendix 2 WIO Regional Assessment (PDF, 906KB)

Marine SA Appendix 3 SEA Assessment (PDF, 4.8MB)

Marine SA Appendix 4 Stakeholder Workshops (PDF, 386KB)

Marine SA Appendix 5 Focus Groups (PDF, 2.6MB)

Marine SA Appendix 6 Bibliography (PDF, 567KB)