Gender and ecosystem services
A gender perspective is critical for achieving sustainable development that ‘leaves no one behind’, yet gender remains a critical gap in ecosystem services research. An emerging literature has shown that men and women have divergent socio-cultural perceptions, values and preferences for ecosystem services. They also use, experience and benefit from ecosystem services differently. This chapter analyses how research undertaken in the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme informs these important issues of gender and ecosystem services, highlighting how ESPA research has started to unpack these gender differences and explore why they exist. Given the differences in how men and women use, experience and benefit from ecosystem services, it is likely that there are unavoidable gender trade-offs, yet conservation and development policies and practices often fail to consider them and, instead, focus on socially acceptable win-win opportunities. Such trade-offs are overlooked when marginalised groups are not given a voice in assessment and decision-making processes. This is an emerging area of research that will be crucial if the gender biases of past development policies are not to be repeated in ecosystem service approaches. Much can be learnt, however, from the rich literature on gender, environment and development.