Intellectual mercantilism and franchise equity: A critical study of the ecological political economy of international payments for ecosystem services
This text addresses the ecological political economy of international payment for ecosystem services (IPES). Taking the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) as a case in point, it asks: in what ways may IPES schemes impinge upon the political and economic autonomy of local and indigenous peoples in tropical countries? It is argued that PES schemes like REDD should be assessed not only with respect to questions of distributional equity (does everyone have enough pie?) but also with respect to franchise equity (does everyone want pie?) and that failure to take questions of franchise equity into account in IPES schemes reflects a form or intellectual mercantilism, where wealth transfers from new economies to old ones are achieved by redefining existing locally available resources as internationally tradable speculative commodities. This proposition is considered through exploration of two illustrative cases – the REDD+ Social and Environmental Standards (REDD+ SES) and the Yasuní-ITT initiative – and through normative political theory recommendations building on Dryzek and Stevenson's discussion of deliberative systems, regarding how it might be possible to ensure franchise equity within REDD+ in particular and within global environmental governance, more generally.
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