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Re-imagining the Rural-Urban Continuum: Understanding the Role Ecosystem Services Play in the Livelihoods of the Poor in Desakota Regions Undergoing Rapid Change

Author: The Desakota Study Team

Over coming decades, two interacting forces will influence ecosystems services and their role as a foundation for livelihood systems across developing countries: (1) Intensifying processes of technological and economic globalization; and (2) Environmental degradation at all levels from the local to the global scale including the impacts of climate change. These changes will undermine the ability of coupled ecological and social systems to provide critical services. The purpose of this study is to increase understanding of the relationships among patterns of global economic and demographic changes, the nature of ecosystems services, and the role of such services in increasingly interlinked urban/rural livelihood systems, particularly those of the poor. The objective is to inform actors regarding specific knowledge, experience and capacity gaps where a strategically targeted research program could have a major impact on the ability of society to address poverty through maintenance of ecosystems and the services they provide. Methodologically, our approach involves a combination of extensive global and regional literature reviews combined with detailed case studies. The report focuses particularly on water-based ecosystem services, as water is a crucial contributor to climate, chemical, and biological systems.  Pressures imposed at any one place or point in time can be propagated through the system and may have implications for future ecosystem functions.


The Desokota Study Team consists of: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-Nepal (ISET-N); Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET-International); Centre for Global Change (CGC); Institute of Agricultural Economics and Development; Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning; Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET-Pakistan); International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); Consortia for Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa; University of Cape Town, Department of Historical Studies; Winrock International India. 

Citation: The Desakota Study Team. (2008). Re-imagining the rural-urban continuum: Understanding the role ecosystem services play in the livelihoods of the poor in desakota regions undergoing rapid change. Kathmandu, Nepal: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-Nepal.

Funded By: UK Department for International Development (DfID); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)