The idea of valuing nature has become a core element of contemporary sustainable development and green economy agendas. This has been enabled by the widespread acceptance of the ‘ecosystems services’ concept, which tries to capture the value of the environment for human wellbeing. As the ecosystems services concept becomes increasingly embedded in development planning and economic policy-making, it is imperative to understand the opportunities it creates for environmental conservation and social development, and its inherent tensions and limitations. Transitioning to inclusive and sustainable economies requires governance systems that are responsive to scientific evidence and ‘practical wisdom’ (i.e., knowledge, experience, judgement, and insight). In other words, the political institutions currently using the concept of ecosystem services need to recognise and reflect on the lessons generated by historical uses of this concept, and the knowledge distributed amongst contemporary stakeholders. This involves mapping the global governance field for ecosystem services, with the aim of understanding which international and transnational actors are using the concept of ecosystem services; and whether and how international use of the ecosystem services concept has changed over time.