How Does Paying for Ecosystem Services Contribute to Sustainable Development? Evidence from Case Study Research in Germany and the UK
Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are currently being discussed as one of the most promising tools in environmental and sustainability governance. However, much criticism has been voiced against overly optimistic assumptions of PES’ management potential towards sustainability. Several contributions to the debate show that PES fail both in reducing poverty and strengthening social justice. Additionally, they neglect problems of deliberation in decision-making, as well as the legitimacy of the applied environmental practices. Our empirical investigation on participatory and deliberative structures in already existing PES initiated by non-state actors contributes to the latter body of research. Based on the assumption that playing an active part in scheme design facilitates the consideration of justice and fairness, our case studies from Germany and the UK. present interesting results on the involvement of conflicting interests and their argumentation in the design process. Summing up these findings, we conclude that paying for ES rarely contributes to sustainable development in and of itself, but deliberatively designed schemes provide a formal setting to take aspects of justice into account.
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