There was no comprehensive and systematic assessment of the conservation status of ecosystems in the world until in 2001 the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, launched the scientific international Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) program. The program was based on the empirical fact that, depending on their level of conservation, ecosystems provide to humans a number of services such as food, wood, water, carbon sequestration for global climate control, pollination for crop production, water purification, soil formation, nutrient uptake, etc., not to mention their aesthetic, educational, recreational or spiritual values, which are essential for their welfare. Its purpose was, first generate robust information scientifically validated, for managers, politicians and the general public were aware of the consequences that changes in the Earth’s ecosystems have on human welfare, and secondly, give options to cope with these changes.
The evaluation has involved far more than 1,300 scientists and experts biogeophysical and social sciences from 95 countries and has had a multiscale character covering the local, national, regional and global scales. The evaluation has been or is being conducted in more than 75 case studies spread across different countries around the world.
Currently it is carried out following the same program known as “Ecosystem Assessment Follow-up”. This then is being done through a series of sub-global assessments (which may be local, national or regional) in order to promote the implementation of the conclusions and recommendations of the EEM. Within these sub-global assessments being carried out by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in Spain, funded by the Biodiversity Foundation and conducted by the laboratory socioecosistemas the Interuniversity Department of Ecology at the Autonomous University of Madrid, and at the regional level, Ecosystem Services Assessment of the Basque Country, funded by the Basque Government and the Provincial Council of Biscay, and conducted by the UNESCO Chair at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).