Payments for Ecosystem Services to conserve biodiversity in the South: effective and fair?
In the face of continuing biodiversity loss, the perceived partial failure of traditional environmental approaches, and the decrease in public funding, governments, NGOs and donor agencies have increasingly called for implementing new and innovative mechanisms to finance conservation. One of these instruments are Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), which aim at connecting « suppliers » of ecosystem services, e.g. farmers who would restrain from deforesting or poaching, with « buyers » who would pay for such services, for instance private companies interested in the maintenance of water quality and quantity flowing to their plants (e.g. hydropower companies). Seen as more direct instruments, PES allegedly raise necessary financial flows for conservation and provide strong economic incentives to modify practices harmful to biodiversity.
But are those instruments really efficient to tackle issues of deforestation and biodiversity loss? And are they fair, and not disruptive in rural contexts in the global South? After more than 10 years of scientific research, pilot projects, national programmes and strong donor support, what is the evidence out there? These are important policy-relevant questions to be discussed during this session with all actors interested in designing, implementing and evaluating such policy instruments. After providing a synthesis of the diversity and goals of existing PES initiatives, as well as of their associated conflicting narratives, the talk will review evidence related to environmental effectiveness and social fairness of PES initiatives in different contexts of the global South. The discussion will outline possible avenues of future research that can enhance the evidence base on PES, which should in turn help better inform those interested in promoting or challenging incentive-based conservation.
This session will extensively draw on existing field evidence and experience of the presenter, and particularly on the findings generated by the EU-Biodiversa Project INVALUABLE, coordinated by IDDRI, in which Esteve Corbera was a co-leader.
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Intervenants : Esteve Corbera (Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA)), Yann Laurans (Directeur du programme Biodiversité – IDDRI)