Indicators for relational values of nature’s contributions to good quality of life: the IPBES approach for Europe and Central Asia

Matthias Schröter, Esra Başak, Michael Christie, Andrew Church, Hans Keune, Elena Osipova, Elisa Oteros-Rozas, Stefanie Sievers-Glotzbach, Alexander P.E. van Oudenhoven, Patricia Balvanera, David González, Sander Jacobs, Zsolt Molnár, Unai Pascual, Berta Martin-Lopez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Relational values are values of desirable relationships between people and nature and among people (through nature). We report on the approach to capture relational values of nature’s contributions to people in the regional assessment for Europe and Central Asia of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). We present a framework considering indicators along four relational value dimensions about people’s relationships with nature: security and sovereignty; health; equity and justice; and heritage, social identity and stewardship. The framework has been operationalized for three nature’s contributions to people (NCP): regulation of freshwater quality and quantity, food and feed, and physical and psychological experiences derived from nature. We identify ways to empirically assess relational values of nature’s contributions to people at regional and continental scales with social-ecological indicators and proxies, ranging from biophysical indicators to indicators that intersect socio-economic with biophysical data. We conclude that many of the identified indicators can be considered as useful proxies of relational values in a quantitative way. The analysis shows that relational values are essential to consider at the science-policy interface as they are an important set of values that people hold about nature and that go beyond instrumental relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-69
Number of pages20
JournalEcosystems and People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Nature’s contributions to people
  • ecosystem services
  • biodiversity
  • human well-being
  • quality of life
  • human-nature relationship
  • environmental ethics
  • indigenous and local knowledge
  • O’Farrell, Patrick


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