The science of ecosystem services has come of age globally. The data revolution of the last decades has allowed us to measure, quantify, model, and map human-nature interactions; yet to use all this information to support public and private decision-making remains a challenge. The latest compounded global crises – humanitarian, military, financial, environmental, and the COVID pandemic – highlighted the potential and limitations of individuals and communities to advance social-economic support, social-ecological resilience and adaptation to changes. It is, therefore, time to empower the inclusion of communities and civil society in both the design and implementation of ecosystem services science, policy and practice; to better account for equity, justice, and societal needs; to recognize societal power in design and implementation of actions; to find improved ways of enhancing societal literacy regarding ecosystem services and nature contributions to people. Ecosystem service science and practice need to actively work with and within individuals and communities who depend on nature for their well-being and often lose the most during emerging crises.
The aim of this European ESP Conference is to highlight pathways for involving diverse societal groups (e.g., local stakeholders, public and private decision makers, NGOs, civil society organizations, students, businesses) in ES science, policy and practice. Besides the participation of researchers, practitioners, and policy makers, we further invite the general public, activist communities and civil society organizations to participate in the conference discussions. We will organize events and dedicated sessions in formats that are directed to the public (e.g., discussion forums, world cafes) and generate media outputs for ES specialists and broader audiences.