Ecosystem Services Program Focal Areas

National Ecosystem Services Partnership

The National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP) engages both public and private individuals and organizations to enhance collaboration within the ecosystem services community and to strengthen coordination of policy and market implementation and research at the national level. NESP is an initiative of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and was developed with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and with donations of expertise and time from many public and private institutions.

Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Logic Models & Socio-Economic Indicators (GEMS)

Billions of dollars will be spent on large-scale restoration of Gulf ecosystems over the coming decades, but there is no shared platform to guide assessment and reporting of restoration progress and effectiveness for the broad set of environmental, social, and economic goals shared by the many institutions working in the Gulf. The diversity of these goals—including habitat restoration, water quality improvement, marine resource protection, community resilience, and economic revitalization—means that a variety of metrics are needed to fully evaluate the effectiveness of restoration projects. A set of common models and metrics relevant across projects, programs, and locations can facilitate effective project planning and evaluation.

Bridge Collaborative

The Bridge Collaborative envisions the global health, development and environment communities jointly solving today’s complex, interconnected challenges. Duke University is a partner in the Bridge Collaborative, which is inspiring a community of leaders and practitioners from across disciplines, sectors and perspectives to develop a shared evidence base for solutions that bridge development and environmental sustainability.

Efficient and Sustainable Agricultural Production

Agricultural production must continue to rise to meet the demands of a growing global population. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions explores how this can be achieved while also reducing negative environmental consequences to water quality and climate.

Sustainable Infrastructure

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in investment in railways, roads, energy projects, and ports in the developing world, aiming to address a significant “infrastructure gap.” Much attention has focused on China’s Belt and Road Initiative as the largest and most visible investor in the developing world, but many international finance organizations and other countries – especially Japan and Korea – have also been making substantial infrastructure investments. Planned infrastructure expansion is expected to span multiple continents and ocean basins and will potentially interact with a wide variety of sensitive terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems.  While infrastructure is fundamental to economic development, historically large-scale infrastructure projects have had unintended negative impacts on the environment and local communities.

Environmental Markets and Private Lands

Encompassing three areas of work at the Nicholas Institute: Making Environmental Markets Work, Protecting and Restoring Watersheds, and Ecosystem Services and Private Land Management.