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Designing payments for environmental services in theory and practice: An overview of the issues

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  • Engel, Stefanie
  • Pagiola, Stefano
  • Wunder, Sven

Abstract

Payments for environmental services (PES) have attracted increasing interest as a mechanism to translate external, non-market values of the environment into real financial incentives for local actors to provide environmental services (ES). In this introductory paper, we set the stage for the rest of this Special Issue of Ecological Economics by reviewing the main issues arising in PES design and implementation and discussing these in the light of environmental economics. We start with a discussion of PES definition and scope. We proceed to review some of the principal dimensions and design characteristics of PES programs and then analyze how PES compares to alternative policy instruments. Finally, we examine in detail two important aspects of PES programs: their effectiveness and their distributional implications. PES is not a silver bullet that can be used to address any environmental problem, but a tool tailored to address a specific set of problems: those in which ecosystems are mismanaged because many of their benefits are externalities from the perspective of ecosystem managers. PES is based on the beneficiary-pays rather than the polluter-pays principle, and as such is attractive in settings where ES providers are poor, marginalized landholders or powerful groups of actors. An important distinction within PES is between user-financed PES in which the buyers are the users of the ES, and government-financed PES in which the buyers are others (typically the government) acting on behalf of ES users. In practice, PES programs differ in the type and scale of ES demand, the payment source, the type of activity paid for, the performance measure used, as well as the payment mode and amount. The effectiveness and efficiency of PES depends crucially on program design.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 65 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (May)
Pages: 663-674

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:65:y:2008:i:4:p:663-674

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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References

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  1. Wunder, Sven & Albán, Montserrat, 2008. "Decentralized payments for environmental services: The cases of Pimampiro and PROFAFOR in Ecuador," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 685-698, May.
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  10. Baylis, Kathy & Peplow, Stephen & Rausser, Gordon & Simon, Leo, 2008. "Agri-environmental policies in the EU and United States: A comparison," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 753-764, May.
  11. Pagiola, Stefano & Rios, Ana R. & Arcenas, Agustin, 2007. "Poor Household Participation in Payments for Environmental Services: Lessons from the Silvopastoral Project in Quindío, Colombia," MPRA Paper 4794, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  14. Wunder, Sven & Engel, Stefanie & Pagiola, Stefano, 2008. "Taking stock: A comparative analysis of payments for environmental services programs in developed and developing countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 834-852, May.
  15. Wunder, Sven, 2008. "Payments for environmental services and the poor: concepts and preliminary evidence," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(03), pages 279-297, June.
  16. Grieg-Gran, Maryanne & Porras, Ina & Wunder, Sven, 2005. "How can market mechanisms for forest environmental services help the poor? Preliminary lessons from Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1511-1527, September.
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  18. Claassen, Roger & Cattaneo, Andrea & Johansson, Robert, 2008. "Cost-effective design of agri-environmental payment programs: U.S. experience in theory and practice," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 737-752, May.
  19. Pagiola, Stefano & Arcenas, Agustin & Platais, Gunars, 2005. "Can Payments for Environmental Services Help Reduce Poverty? An Exploration of the Issues and the Evidence to Date from Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 237-253, February.
  20. Simpson, R. David & Ferraro, Paul, 2000. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Conservation Payments," Discussion Papers dp-00-31, Resources For the Future.
  21. Dobbs, Thomas L. & Pretty, Jules, 2008. "Case study of agri-environmental payments: The United Kingdom," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 765-775, May.
  22. Paul J. Ferraro, 2004. "Targeting Conservation Investments in Heterogeneous Landscapes: A Distance-Function Approach and Application to Watershed Management," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(4), pages 905-918.
  23. Turpie, J.K. & Marais, C. & Blignaut, J.N., 2008. "The working for water programme: Evolution of a payments for ecosystem services mechanism that addresses both poverty and ecosystem service delivery in South Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 788-798, May.
  24. Asquith, Nigel M. & Vargas, Maria Teresa & Wunder, Sven, 2008. "Selling two environmental services: In-kind payments for bird habitat and watershed protection in Los Negros, Bolivia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 675-684, May.
  25. Ferraro, Paul J., 2008. "Asymmetric information and contract design for payments for environmental services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 810-821, May.
  26. Michael J. Roberts & Ruben N. Lubowski, 2007. "Enduring Impacts of Land Retirement Policies: Evidence from the Conservation Reserve Program," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 83(4), pages 516-538.
  27. Engel, Stefanie & Palmer, Charles, 2008. "Payments for environmental services as an alternative to logging under weak property rights: The case of Indonesia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 799-809, May.
  28. Pagiola, Stefano & Ramirez, Elias & Gobbi, Jose & de Haan, Cees & Ibrahim, Muhammad & Murgueitio, Enrique & Ruiz, Juan Pablo, 2007. "Paying for the environmental services of silvopastoral practices in Nicaragua," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 374-385, December.
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