One of the major global challenges these days and into the future remains the need to improve the well-being of nature and humanity (Díaz et al. 2018). As widely recognized by the global community through the recent publication of the seminal work on the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), humans have benefited immensely from greater access to water, energy, food and other materials than ever by directly or indirectly exploiting nature. However, this has also resulted in the decline in nature and nature’s ability to provide various contributions for a good quality of life, thereby undermining the provision of nature’s other contributions such as regulating and non-material contributions (IPBES 2019). Such a decline in nature and nature’s contributions to people (NCP), if it continues unabated, is likely to undermine the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (IPBES 2019). Addressing these challenges requires a better understanding of multiple values associated with nature and NCP. In this regard, this special feature aims to share global efforts that evaluate nature and NCP to support decision-makers across various sectors in the development of policies and strategies for the effective management of coupled social–ecological systems.

Following the IPBES conceptual framework and related publications, NCP in this feature is defined as all the positive and negative contributions of living nature to people’s good quality of life while nature is defined as the non-human world (Pascual et al. 2017; Díaz et al. 2018). The NCP approach recognizes the existence of a wide range of views of the human–nature relationships. Therefore, the NCP concept is inclusive of different concepts such as ecosystem services (ESs), and nature’s gifts, embracing diverse world views, including those of indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs) (Pascual et al. 2017). Nature includes biodiversity and ecosystems, and other analogous concepts such as natural capital—the economic perspective that recognizes nature as part of a production basis(UNU-IHDP and UNEP 2012, 2015; Managi and Kumar 2018). The NCP approach has been used extensively in recent IPBES assessments, including the Regional Assessments and the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It is also to be used for future assessments.

The introduction of the concept of nature’s contributions to people was a major development in IPBES and the global biodiversity community at large. It emphasized the importance of pluralistic approaches to assessment or valuation of nature and its contributions to people. While decision-making often relies on instrumental values of NCP such as those ascribed to food, water purification, flood prevention, etc., other types of values such as intrinsic values and relational values are also important for people’s sense of identity, spirituality, and to a meaningful life (Pascual et al. 2017). However, nature and many of the NCP, if not all, are difficult to evaluate by monistic valuation approaches only. Values of nature and NCP are not always reducible to each other nor a single value. Thus, embracing multiple values associated with nature and NCP will help communicate with a wide audience for policy and decision making towards a more sustainable global society (Bennett et al. 2015; Pascual et al. 2017; Ainscough et al. 2019; Islam and Managi 2019). In 2018, IPBES commissioned a methodological assessment of diverse conceptualization of values of nature and NCP (IPBES 2016). This assessment will hopefully lay down strong conceptual foundations for the valuation of nature and NCP.

Aims and scope of special feature

This special feature (SF) intends to present and share various methodologies and practices of the valuation of nature and NCP, and add to the knowledge base assessed in the ongoing IPBES assessment. The SF will welcome studies that employ a pluralistic valuation approach and other approaches. Among others, we welcome contributions on the following themes:

  • Methodology and case studies on the pluralistic valuation of nature and NCP.

  • How different cognitive models about human-nature relations imply different value and valuation approaches.

  • Global as well as regional and local analyses that quantitatively estimate and project the diverse values of nature and NCP.

  • Valuation of nature and NCP across a broad range of decision-making contexts, including applications in the context of national and regional wealth accounting.

  • Understanding complex interplays of different worldviews and multiple values ascribed to NCP.

  • Understanding value from IPLCs perspective, including the reviews of theoretical as well as empirical research.

  • How a pluralistic view of values connect with a pluralistic view of people’s good quality of life.

  • Critical analyses of the impacts of changes in nature and NCP on people’s good quality of life.

  • Roles of nature and NCP for good quality of life in the context of IPLCs.

  • Evaluation of intrinsic, instrumental and relational values ascribed to NCP.

  • How environmental conflicts can be addressed via valuation approaches when these are understood from a boundary work/process perspective.

  • Role of nature and NCP in mitigating and reducing impacts of climate and natural disasters on vulnerable populations.

Deadline, submission, and review process

This SF is multidisciplinary with a broad scope, and we are aiming to publish a low number of largely invited articles. We encourage authors to submit extended abstracts (maximum 500 words) to the SF editors. We will invite a selection of authors to submit full-length manuscripts through the journal’s electronic editorial management system. Following the publisher formatting guidelines and length requirements are necessary. At this point, authors should state if they are submitting their work to be considered for the “Valuation of nature and nature’s contributions to people.”.

Submit abstracts to

  • Abstract submission deadline: December 31, 2019.

  • Full paper submission deadline: June 30, 2020.

  • Tentative date of online publication: as soon as accepted (SF).

Authors guidelines

Submission guidelines

For submission through EM system, please register in EM system (below link) and submit your article selecting the SF title. You can see the author tutorial on the right side of the registration page. Please, tag your submission with the SF tag “Valuation of nature and nature’s contributions to people”.