As society strives to transition towards more sustainable development pathways, it is important to properly conceptualize the link between biodiversity (i.e. genes, traits, species and other dimensions) and human well-being (HWB; i.e. health, wealth, security and other dimensions). Here, we explore how published conceptual frameworks consider the extent to which the biodiversity-HWB links are being integrated into public discourse and scientific research and the implications of our findings for sustainable development. We find that our understanding has gradually evolved from seeing the value of biodiversity as an external commodity that may influence HWB to biodiversity as fundamental to HWB. Analysis of the literature trends indicates increasing engagement with the terms biodiversity, HWB and sustainable development in the public, science and policy spheres, but largely as independent rather than linked terms. We suggest that a consensus framework for sustainable development should include biodiversity explicitly as a suite of internal variables that both influence and are influenced by HWB. Doing so will enhance clarity and help shape coherent research and policy priorities. We further suggest that the absence of this link in development can inadvertently lead to a ratcheting down of biodiversity by otherwise well-meaning policies. Such biotic impoverishment could lock HWB at minimum levels or lead to its decline and halt or reverse progress in achieving sustainable development.
Keywords: biodiversity; ecosystem services; human well-being; sustainable development.
© 2016 The Authors.