This first report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment describes the conceptual framework that is being used in the MA. It is not a formal assessment of the literature, but rather a scientifically informed presentation of the choices made by the assessment team in structuring the analysis and framing the issues. The conceptual framework elaborated in this report describes the approach and assumptions that will underlie the analysis conducted in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The framework was developed through interactions among the experts involved in the MA as well as stakeholders who will use its findings. It represents one means of examining the linkages between ecosystems and human well-being that is both scientifically credible and relevant to decision-makers. This framework for analysis and decision-making should be of use to a wide array of individuals and institutions in government, the private sector, and civil society that seek to incorporate considerations of ecosystem services in their assessments, plans, and actions.