Stephen Carpenter, a zoology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a world-renowned expert on human-ecology interactions, served on a 13-member panel of leading natural and social scientists that managed the execution of the four-year, $24 million project. Involving more than 1,300 scientists from 95 countries, the MA kicked off in 2001 under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), with financial backing from the Global Environment Facility, the UN Foundation and the World Bank, among other donors.
At the project's helm is a board that includes representatives of international conventions, UN agencies, scientific organizations and leaders from the private sector, civil society and indigenous organizations.
"The value in this initiative was that we made an attempt to be as unbiased as possible by having every bias at the table," says Carpenter.
Four working groups implemented different aspects of the immense study. Teams assessed current scientific knowledge, evolving trends and changes in ecosystem services both at the global and regional scale. Researchers also monitored strengths and weaknesses in ecosystem management strategies worldwide, and developed integrated scenarios of the future.
Carpenter co-chaired the "scenarios" group, with assistance from Elena Bennett, a UW-Madison postdoctoral researcher in ecology. With an international team of ecologists, economists, sociologists and demographers, the scenarios group surveyed about 100 industrial, government and scientific leaders