The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s (MA) objective was to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and to establish the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and their contributions to human well-being.
The MA was a milestone in both its findings and methodological approach. The MA was undertaken by an international network of scientists and other experts, with more than 1300 authors from 95 countries involved. It was a multi-scale assessment, including component assessments undertaken at multiple spatial scales. Additionally, the MA sought to include different knowledge systems, as well as scientific knowledge. The focus on ecosystem services and their link to human well-being was also unique and helped the assessment have a greater impact on decision-makers. The MA found that between 1950 and 2000 there was the most rapid change in ecosystems in human history, resulting in a substantial loss in the diversity of life on Earth and a decline in 60% of the 24 ecosystem services examined.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was called for by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000 and was designed to meet some of the assessment needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. These conventions all formally endorsed the MA.
All the MA findings went through two rigorous rounds of peer review by experts and governments, overseen by an independent board of review editors.