4th ESP Europe Conference 

Heraklion, Greece, 10-14 October 2022


Ecosystem services empowering people and societies in times of crises

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 was 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 invited the general public, activist communities and civil society organizations to participate in the conference discussions. We organized events and dedicated sessions in formats that are directed to the public (e.g., discussion forums, world cafes) and generated media outputs for ES specialists and broader audiences.

Keynote speakers were also invited to highlight the conference theme and open discussions on the topic.

It was our pleasure to welcome everyone in Crete and set new pathways forward for empowering societies through ecosystem services.

Fishing boats and marina in the old harbour of Heraklion at the north coast of Crete in Greece.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The fourth ESP Europe Regional conference took place in Heraklion, Greece from 10-14 October 2022.

Heraklion is the largest city in the island of Crete and the fourth largest city, in terms of inhabitants, in Greece. The city and the entire municipality has a valuable natural heritage as it is home to a range of endemic species of flora and fauna, many of which are protected under national, European and international agreements. The municipality also has several marine and terrestrial Natura 2000 protected areas, with exceptional value for biodiversity. The Heraklion municipality is an agricultural area with its core production lying on olive oil and viticulture. Tourism is also one of the major activities and sources of income in the island. Heraklion has a rich cultural heritage and history due to its geographical location within the Mediterranean, which made it accessible to byzantines, venetians, to ottomans and others throughout the centuries. Remnants of the various civilizations are preserved and can be seen in various spots of the city.


We are happy to announce that the ESP Europe conference was a success, and we hope you enjoyed it and gained lots of insights and experience. Below we provide you with some last conference announcements:

Conference Proceedings

All collected presentations, recordings, and outcomes are available here. If you presented online and wish your presentation to be public on the conference website, please feel free to send it to us at conference@es-partnership.org. In case you do not wish your presentation to be online, please get in touch and let us know.

Conference photos

We would like to inform you that all the official pictures from the conference are available on ESP's Flickr page. Did you also take some photos during the sessions or the excursions? You can send them to us at conference@es-partnership.org. Screenshots from the online view of the sessions are very welcome!


Please subscribe to our ESP Update to remain informed regarding the conference developments. Learn more about ESP membership and register here. Or listen to our members share their experiences in this short video produced during the ESP Europe 2022 conference.

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Conference banner: Daan Reith 

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