Academic journal article Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum

Next Generation Conservation: The Government's Role in Emerging Ecosystem Service Markets

Academic journal article Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum

Next Generation Conservation: The Government's Role in Emerging Ecosystem Service Markets

Article excerpt

On October 23, 2009, the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum ("DELPF") presented its annual symposium, entitled Next Generation Conservation: The Government's Role in Emerging Ecosystem Service Markets. (1) In a unique undertaking, DELPF partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Environmental Markets ("OEM") (2) to present the symposium. The partnership could not have resulted in a more successful product.

As a young office with an energetic director, OEM was looking to corral the innumerable and invaluable ideas for developing ecosystem service markets. As an interdisciplinary environmental legal journal, DELPF brings together the leading thinkers on a single topic during its annual symposium--ideally shedding light on the hurdles and associated solutions presented by the topic. In choosing to partner with an academic forum, OEM was able to bring together a diverse set of minds, in the same place and at the same time, to discuss and debate the future of ecosystem service markets. DELPF was chosen because of its interdisciplinary resources, which match those needed by markets that cut across every sector of the economy. While there were high expectations from both sides, the enthusiasm within the symposium, from both speakers and attendees, surprised even our most ardent backers.

In any situation, success is a subjective term. For this event, there were at least two key factors. First was the benefit to OEM. OEM is, and will be, a major influence in the development and viability of ecosystem service markets. This symposium was intended to give their office insight, multiple perspectives, and suggestions that could be turned into action. Writing this, months after the symposium, the success on that aspect is obvious. Since October 23rd, OEM has leaned on the people who participated and has implemented ideas that were proposed.

An equally important measure of success with a small but growing market is the awareness that our efforts create. Ecosystem service markets are still seen by some as an idealistic dream of environmentalists. We who believe in them must strive to establish that they are not a passing fringe undertaking, but a practical solution that is here to stay. On this front, the number of attendees, which filled one of Duke Law School's biggest lecture halls and then required two additional overflow rooms, helps show awareness. As does the nearly 3,500 viewers who watched real-time on the day of the event. …

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