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Payments for ecosystem services as commodity fetishism

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  • Kosoy, Nicolás
  • Corbera, Esteve
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    Abstract

    Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) economically reward resource managers for the provision of ecosystem services and are thus characterised by (i) an ecological function subject to trade; (ii) the establishment of a standard unit of exchange; (iii) and supply, demand and intermediation flows between those who sell and buy ecosystem services. This paper departs from the term commodity fetishism, broadly understood as the masking of the social relationships underlying the process of production, to illuminate three invisibilities in the commodification of ecosystem services. Firstly, we argue that narrowing down the complexity of ecosystems to a single service has serious technical difficulties and ethical implications on the way we relate to and perceive nature. Secondly, the commodification of ecosystem services denies the multiplicity of values which can be attributed to these services, since it requires that a single exchange-value is adopted for trading. Finally, we suggest that the process of production, exchange and consumption of ecosystem services is characterised by power asymmetries which may contribute to reproducing rather than addressing existing inequalities in the access to natural resources and services.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 69 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (April)
    Pages: 1228-1236

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:6:p:1228-1236

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

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    1. Corbera, Esteve & Soberanis, Carmen González & Brown, Katrina, 2009. "Institutional dimensions of Payments for Ecosystem Services: An analysis of Mexico's carbon forestry programme," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 743-761, January.
    2. 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.
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    11. 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.
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    15. Kosoy, Nicolas & Martinez-Tuna, Miguel & Muradian, Roldan & Martinez-Alier, Joan, 2007. "Payments for environmental services in watersheds: Insights from a comparative study of three cases in Central America," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 446-455, March.
    16. Muradian, Roldan & Corbera, Esteve & Pascual, Unai & Kosoy, Nicolás & May, Peter H., 2010. "Reconciling theory and practice: An alternative conceptual framework for understanding payments for environmental services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1202-1208, April.
    17. Muñoz-Piña, Carlos & Guevara, Alejandro & Torres, Juan Manuel & Braña, Josefina, 2008. "Paying for the hydrological services of Mexico's forests: Analysis, negotiations and results," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 725-736, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Clements, Tom & John, Ashish & Nielsen, Karen & An, Dara & Tan, Setha & Milner-Gulland, E.J., 2010. "Payments for biodiversity conservation in the context of weak institutions: Comparison of three programs from Cambodia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1283-1291, April.
    2. Muradian, Roldan & Corbera, Esteve & Pascual, Unai & Kosoy, Nicolás & May, Peter H., 2010. "Reconciling theory and practice: An alternative conceptual framework for understanding payments for environmental services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1202-1208, April.
    3. Coria, Jessica & Robinson, Elizabeth & Smith, Henrik G. & Sterner, Thomas, 2012. "Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services Provision: Tale of Confused Objectives, Multiple Market Failures and Policy Challenges," Working Papers in Economics 546, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. Rode, Julian & Gómez-Baggethun, Erik & Krause, Torsten, 2013. "Economic incentives for biodiversity conservation: What is the evidence for motivation crowding?," UFZ Discussion Papers 19/2013, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    5. Anguelovski, Isabelle & Martínez Alier, Joan, 2014. "The ‘Environmentalism of the Poor’ revisited: Territory and place in disconnected glocal struggles," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 167-176.
    6. Julia Martin-Ortega & Elena Ojea & Camille Roux, 2012. "Payments for Water Ecosystem Services in Latin America: Evidence from Reported Experience," Working Papers 2012-14, BC3.
    7. Kallis, Giorgos & Gómez-Baggethun, Erik & Zografos, Christos, 2013. "To value or not to value? That is not the question," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 97-105.
    8. Patrick POINT (GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113), 2012. "Valuation of wetland ecosystems services. Some methodological principles (In French)," Cahiers du GREThA 2012-19, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    9. Farrell, Katharine N., 2014. "Intellectual mercantilism and franchise equity: A critical study of the ecological political economy of international payments for ecosystem services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 137-146.
    10. Farley, Joshua & Costanza, Robert, 2010. "Payments for ecosystem services: From local to global," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2060-2068, September.
    11. Gómez-Baggethun, Erik & de Groot, Rudolf & Lomas, Pedro L. & Montes, Carlos, 2010. "The history of ecosystem services in economic theory and practice: From early notions to markets and payment schemes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1209-1218, April.
    12. Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Ecosystem services: From eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1219-1227, April.
    13. Narloch, Ulf & Drucker, Adam G. & Pascual, Unai, 2011. "Payments for agrobiodiversity conservation services for sustained on-farm utilization of plant and animal genetic resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 1837-1845, September.
    14. Rico García-Amado, Luis & Ruiz Pérez, Manuel & Barrasa García, Sara, 2013. "Motivation for conservation: Assessing integrated conservation and development projects and payments for environmental services in La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve, Chiapas, Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 92-100.
    15. Rodríguez, Luis C. & Pascual, Unai & Muradian, Roldan & Pazmino, Nathalie & Whitten, Stuart, 2011. "Towards a unified scheme for environmental and social protection: Learning from PES and CCT experiences in developing countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 2163-2174, September.
    16. Antonio A. R. Ioris, 2012. "The Positioned Construction of Water Values: Pluralism, Positionality and Praxis," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 21(2), pages 143-162, May.
    17. Hearnshaw, Edward J.S. & Cullen, Ross, 2010. "The Sustainability and Cost-Effectiveness of Water Storage Projects on Canterbury Rivers: The Opihi River Case," 2010 Conference, August 26-27, 2010, Nelson, New Zealand 97265, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    18. Davidson, Marc D., 2013. "On the relation between ecosystem services, intrinsic value, existence value and economic valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 171-177.
    19. Vatn, Arild, 2010. "An institutional analysis of payments for environmental services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1245-1252, April.
    20. Robert Fish & Michael Winter & Matt Lobley, 2014. "Sustainable intensification and ecosystem services: new directions in agricultural governance," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 51-67, March.
    21. Anderson, Blake & M'Gonigle, Michael, 2012. "Does ecological economics have a future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 37-48.
    22. Jax, Kurt & Barton, David N. & Chan, Kai M.A. & de Groot, Rudolf & Doyle, Ulrike & Eser, Uta & Görg, Christoph & Gómez-Baggethun, Erik & Griewald, Yuliana & Haber, Wolfgang & Haines-Young, Roy & Hei, 2013. "Ecosystem services and ethics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 260-268.

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