Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Ecological functions and functionings: towards a Senian analysis of ecosystem services

Forsyth, Tim ORCID: 0000-0001-7227-9475 (2014) Ecological functions and functionings: towards a Senian analysis of ecosystem services. Development and Change. pp. 1-31. ISSN 0012-155X

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Registered users only

Download (664kB) | Request a copy


Ecosystem services are part of a growing trend within environment and development to analyze environmental change within the context of socially valued outcomes. Yet, ecosystem services-based policies and analyses are increasingly criticized for failing to connect with, or even restricting, development outcomes. This paper seeks to connect environmental analysis with development outcomes better by applying the Capability Approach of Amartya Sen and others to demonstrate how scientific analysis of ecosystem services sometimes conflates pathways of ecosystem management with development outcomes, but can be reconfigured to include more diverse values and objectives. The paper argues that ecosystem services should be identified more as ‘functionings’ (in the Senian sense of valued development outcomes) rather than ‘functions’ (in the sense of biophysical, apolitical ecosystem properties) in order to indicate that ‘services’ always reflects social values, and that values and scientific explanations of underlying biophysical properties evolve together. Environmental science for socially valued outcomes such as ecosystem services is therefore an important site of political inclusion and exclusion. The paper illustrates this analysis with examples of ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change from the World Bank and government of Bangladesh, and in contrast to differing approaches from the field of sustainability science.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Institute of Social Studies
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2014 08:45
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:55

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics