A major challenge today and into the future is to maintain or enhance beneficial contributions of nature to a good quality of life for all people. This is among the key motivations of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a joint global effort by governments, academia, and civil society to assess and promote knowledge of Earth's biodiversity and ecosystems and their contribution to human societies in order to inform policy formulation. One of the more recent key elements of the IPBES conceptual framework (1) is the notion of nature's contributions to people (NCP), which builds on the ecosystem service concept popularized by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) (2). But as we detail below, NCP as defined and put into practice in IPBES differs from earlier work in several important ways. First, the NCP approach recognizes the central and pervasive role that culture plays in defining all links between people and nature. Second, use of NCP elevates, emphasizes, and operationalizes the role of indigenous and local knowledge in understanding nature's contribution to people.