Contact us:

Contributions for Teoría y práctica de los Pagos por Servicios Ambientales (PSA): lecciones aprendidas y el camino a seguir?

Philipp Aerni and Bernardete Neves Facilitators of the discussion,
FSN Forum

PES FSN discussion, closing summary

Dear colleagues, many thanks to all for sharing your experience, views and advice on PES with us over the past three weeks. We are very happy to see that this discussion received contributions from both PES hopefuls and sceptics around the World- both have made very important points. The results of this discussion will help guiding the ongoing FAO project, dedicated to capturing evidence on when and how PES and other flexible incentive and non-market mechanisms can be effective in supporting the multi-functionality of agriculture, in developed and developing countries.

The most common issue raised was the importance of participatory design of projects (Helena, Brazil; Rodolfo, Mexico). Many of your examples focused on forest conservation and the many shortcomings that have prevented them from achieving the necessary environmental benefits (Claudia, Italy), thus wasting funds; while causing no improvements (Silenou, Cameroon), or even harming the communities depending on these ecosystems (Bhubaneswor, Nepal; David, Uganda: Gill, UK and Assan, South Africa). We are very pleased that the Forum can be a platform for this type of critically important and outspoken debate; we will follow up on some of these issues directly with you over the coming weeks.

In connection to this, several contributions also discussed the types of incentives that should be offered to farmers and forest managers for their conservation efforts. In the first week, Emmanuel (Cameroon) highlighted the need for off-farm employment, rural finance etc. In cropland, Timo (Germany) and Josephat (Kenya) noted the importance of offering the right combination of short and long-term incentives for adopting and sustaining better practices. Timo reported good results in Indonesia, combining short-term agroforestry benefits with long-term carbon revenues from forest carbon. Josephat highlights the need for quick gains from in-situ benefits as motivation for continued investment in long-term downstream benefits.

Nearly all contributions speak about experience from development projects designed at national level, with donor funding. This could also be partly because, as Shiney from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (USA) says, many of the public funded conservation projects are now considered PES. In the second week, Tina (New Zeeland) gives us an encouraging example of a different set up. The Maori tribal grouping of Ngati Porou, took control of their own indigenous resources framing their activities in a way that they can become a local economic player. But if afforestation of degraded lands can improve water conditions, why aren’t those water users more willing to co-fund this environmental service provision? It seems that even with a strong indigenous community, an investor for the product (lumber), the environmental service benefit it is still not an easy sell. Adam’s (Italy) work on payments for agrobiodiversity conservation services is exploring a range of private and public funding opportunities that could/should be explored to broaden the funding base of these schemes.

While there is good work in progress, engaging the beneficiaries of improved environmental services remains PES most important challenge. Without this, PES will not deliver its key promise -attracting new funding or support services from the private sector - and likely to remain a short-lived public-funded investment (Simone, Paraguay), with mixed goals and fuzzy results. One major problem may be that sellers are not necessarily the only providers of environmental services (often they are enabled to do so through organisations that provide them with the necessary assistance and in-kind payments) and buyers do not necessarily represent the beneficiaries only. In fact, downstream industries often invest a substantial amount to make their own businesses more sustainable and come closer to complying with regulation (more efficient use of resources, ecological restoration, wetland construction, water cleaning stations etc.) and thus contribute to the improvement of ecosystem services. This indicates that what might look like a business case in PES theory may not be one in practice.

Another key challenge seems to lie in the relationship between PES and regulation. Existing environmental regulation can be an opportunity. PES could be used as an incentive to help farmers comply with existing, but partly unenforced environmental protection regulation, helping them to deliver the mandated environmental improvements (cross-compliance to fulfil the polluter-pay principle: Hans-Jörg, Switzerland; Timo, Germany) and asking them to deliver additional environmental improvements, beyond those required by law (provider-gets principle). While some of our members consider that PES can be used to combine both benefits, others believe it should be applied only to the latter (Helena, Brazil). But if we want to target sensitive areas like those Rodolfo (Mexico) mentions, a combination of both instruments may be required to make a difference. On the other hand, budgetary regulations and conflicting sectoral policies can block PES development. In some countries, existing tributary regulations do not allow for municipal financial transfers across administrative boundaries, undermining local creativity in addressing ecosystem scale problems. At national level, compartmentalized sectoral policies may contradict each other too (Assan, South Africa). In some cases, legislation can block PES development. In Kenya, Josephat mentions a common problem: water use fees and their share earmarked for water resources management exist and are being collected to some extent, but their investment in not traceable. Their existence hampers any further efforts of PES to negotiate for re-directing existing or capturing additional funding for watershed management.

Perhaps the way forward lies in a more systemic approach, and PES is already piloting it. Rogerio (Brazil), Peter (Australia) and Andrew (Italy) make us look to the future and consider the extent to which natural resources are consumed and wasted, its impacts to producers (Rogerio) and consumers (Peter). Andrew calls for a gradual rise in food (and water) prices, that includes funding the adequate protection of the environmental services that allow for the provisioning of these goods. Perhaps one of the virtues of PES lies in highlighting these linkages between providers and users of environmental goods and services. Ecolabeling schemes bring both sides closer together, local PES initiatives are leading to revisions of water tariffs to include a new charges for, or earmark existing revenues, to watershed management. These approaches, automatically capture all private sector, include us: the final users of all these goods and services.

But to mainstream this we need to demonstrate the need for improved ecosystem management and we cannot do that if our pilot projects fail to deliver environmental benefits. Impact assessment is seriously needed and John’s (UK) cost-effective approach to measuring impacts is very encouraging. We should aim to developing similar approaches in all “development” and conservation projects, be they through PES or other investment mechanisms.

While our discussion here comes to an end this week, we will continue pursuing some of these main lines of reflection on how to: 1) diminish the gap between theory and practice of PES, 2) ensure participatory design of projects that are demand-driven with realistic long-term funding strategies, 3) provide alternatives to resource use-restriction and balanced packages of short and long-term incentives for adoption of improved practices, 4) measure the impacts our work and 5) communicate that to engage the private sector in a long-term and substantial manner and 6) eventually mainstream that into government policy.

Once again, we thank you for sharing your honest opinion, your experience and related documents. Should you like to elaborate further on any of these issues please write to us. We will also include you in our project mailing list and welcome feedback on the direction we take, and the added value of our work over the coming two years.

Best wishes to all

Nanete Neves, technical advisor (
Philipp Aerni, project coordinator (

Helena Gonçalves Fundação Agência das Bacias PCJ, Brazil
FSN Forum

1. What are the lessons learned from PES in developed and developing countries?

We have a lot of PES projects being developed in Brazil and it became a trend over here. Most of them are related to water, carbon and biodiversity. From my experience in this projects I can enumerate some challenges which those initiatives are meeting and trying to overcome:

  • Legal problems: some of the PES schemes are developed by municipalities or state government and there is a legal contradiction in the financial transaction (from the public to the private)
  • Forest Code: in some projects related to water conservation, the payment is related to the conservation or restoration of the “Permanent Preservation Areas – APPs”, defined by law and associated to some spatial limits, that some times are not being respected by the PES schemes. How to justify a payment for someone who is not even respecting the law?
  • About the voluntariness of PES projects: how to guarantee that the adhesion is volunteer if many projects are directly related to “helping the landowner to follow the law” and he is vulnerable to the penalties?
  • How to justify a payment to help someone follow the law but to someone else not? (the projects are not all-inclusive, not even in Brazil or in the cities they are developed)?
  • There are some projects where the price of the payment does not reach the opportunity cost, so it is not interesting to the landowner to join the project. So, there is financial support, but there is no environmental service provider.
  • In my opinion PES schemes MUST be integrated to environmental education, the ES providers MUST be involved and participate from the design of the project, and their suggestions and comments should be strongly considered in the implementation of the project, otherwise the change of behavior will be permanently related to the financial transaction.
  • Payment cannot be related to the total area of the farm, but to the area to be conserved or any methodology that value the service that portion of landscape is providing – otherwise the inequality will just be exacerbated.

2. PES can be conceived as a diverse set of policies, institutions and processes that mobilize funding from direct beneficiaries, taxpayers, consumers and other interested parties to reward/remunerate/pay providers of environmental services. Which type of PES-related policy instruments would you recommend for your own particular country and why?

In Brazil there is a Law Project to regulate the PES policies, but it is “locked” in the congress for 7 years already. At the same time, we figure many types of PES schemes, adopting several solutions and methodologies, trying to fit the local reality and financial support available. Projects are developed by NGOs, municipalities, state governments, companies, and are paying totally different amounts (many times for the same services).

Despite recognizing the importance of adopting methodologies adequated to the local reality, I wonder if the results and impact of them would not reach higher proportion if following a “model” or unique strategy.

In fact there is a initiative from ANA (Water National Agency) called “Produtor de Água” that stimulates the development of PES projects and gives technical assistance to it. Anyway, the “PES trend” is making many initiatives emerge, sometimes without enough prepare and assistance.

In São Paulo, the Environmental Secretary tried for years to develop an incentive program to the municipalities create PES projects to protect water springs. But it didn´t work. Now the idea is to give farmers who intend to get adequated to the Forest Code, all the tools to do it: fences, seedlings. Instead of paying them.

3. What should be the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in making PES work for sustainable development?

In some places, where there are a great number of small properties, focus on individual farmers is the only way to reach conservation of relevant areas, where there is potential and necessity of environmental services providing. Those areas are populated and you can not just remove the population. You have to give them ways to provide these services. PES is one of the possibilities.

Shiney Varghese Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, United States of America

Please see the attached submission,


Shiney Varghese

Sarah Schomers Zalf, CIVILand, Germany

Dear all,

from a European perspective, the major approach towards PES is based on European CAP payments. These payments are developed and executed in a complex legal and institutional environment, where the overall framework is set by the EU. The concrete policy designs of the measure are worked out at the individual member state level. Thus, most PES cases in Europe are reflected in governmental payment programs.  

Based on an extensive literature review (conducted in 2011), it became obvious that the majority of PES cases in developing countries are based on large governmental payment schemes, too. This implies that a major approach towards PES in developing countries reflects the same approach that we have in Europe since 1992 (or even longer in the case of many European states).

PES is a very multifaceted term and many different conservation approaches are labeled as PES. Also in this online discussion it has been frequently emphasized that PES purists do not consider these European payment schemes as PES at all. We will miss considerable lessons learnt from more than two decades of empirical research on governmental PES schemes, if we do not consider these PES approaches. To push the international PES discourse ahead, we should rather integrate existing research and major lessons learnt on the European and US American payment schemes more heavily. Since the wording of Payments for Ecosystem Services / Environmental Services is relatively new, most lessons learnt of European payment schemes are published under a different terminology, such as agri-environmental measures and schemes or multifunctionality of agriculture.

Simone Lovera Global Forest Coalition , Paraguay

Dear Mr. Aerni and Ms. Neves,

Hereby I would like to contribute to the FSN Forum on Payments for Environmental Services. I also would like to submit a paper on Innovative Financial Mechanisms elaborated by the CBD Alliance, the global network of NGOs following the Convention on Biodiversity, which includes an elaborate critique on PES. See

Moreover, I would like to contribute a draft submission on Non-market based approaches to the UNFCCC which is currently being elaborated by my own organization, the Global Forest Coalition (a coalition of 54 NGOs and Indigenous Peoples Organizations from 39 different countries) and other groups. This submission analyzes the advantage of alternative incentive mechanisms if compared to PES. I am afraid it is only a draft at this moment , the final draft of this submission will be ready by March 22 only.  I would appreciate it if you could include that final draft in the forum. I could send you an almost final version on Monday afternoon my time.

From the outset I would like to point out that I considered the questions rather biased, they seem to assume that all respondents would be in favor of PES mechanisms. However, the above-mentioned papers by the CBD Alliance and GFC (representing hundreds of NGOs and IPOs that are actively involved in biodiversity policy) are very skeptical about these mechanisms. Many of these reservations are shared by Governments as well. The results of the Global Dialogue on Scaling up Finance for Biodiversity organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Governments of Japan, India, Norway, Sweden and Ecuador in March 2012, for example, expressed far more balanced views on PES and certainly did not outright support it. In fact, PES are increasingly being criticized by especially Southern Governments during intergovernmental negotiations while they were mainly are defended by OECD countries. A clear example are the Rio+20 negotiations, where G77 formally requested the term 'environmental services' to be removed from the outcome document. I feel it is important an organization like FAO takes a more balanced approach in this respect.

I have tried to fill out some of your questions below, also using some of the experiences in my own country Paraguay, where I work for a local NGO, Sobrevivencia, as well. See also for an elaborate research by our colleague organizations on the social impacts of PES and Biodiversity Offsets schemes in Paraguay.

I wish you success with your consultations and I look forward to the results of this forum.

Sincerely yours,

Simone Lovera

 in the FSN Forum:

1. What are the lessons learned from PES in developed and developing countries?

1. What are the main challenges and opportunities with regard to PES projects in your particular country?

A very basic challenge is that there is no funding to implement a PES scheme in Paraguay. As an elaborate research by Milder (Milder, J.C., S.J. Scherr and C. Bracer, 2010.Trends and Future Potential of Payment for Ecosystem Services to Alleviate Rural Poverty in Developing Countries.Ecology and Society, 15(2):4.) has pointed out, 98% of all PES schemes are financed by Governments, and the budget of the Government of Paraguay is simply to restricted to take this on. One should also seriously question whether expensive PES schemes, which lead to permanent payment obligations if 'environmental services' are to be maintained, are a wise use of the very limited funding that is available for environmental conservation in developing countries. In the case of Paraguay, there are many, many other priorities. 

2. Do you know of highly successful PES cases in your particular field of expertise (watershed management, biodiversity/wildlife conservation, carbon sequestration,…)? If so, what were the main factors that contributed to the success of the PES scheme?

No, as described in the research on PES and biodiversity offsets in Paraguay mentioned above, community conservation initiatives were unable to obtain PES funding as the procedures were too complicated. Only large conservation organizations and/or large landholders with very strong links to the government are able to obtain PES funding. The combination of bad governance (Paraguay has one of the highest levels of corruption in the world, a situation that has worsened even further since last year's coup d'etat) and PES is a very nasty one. More importantly, the added value of PES in countries like Mexico and Costa Rica is seriously questioned by independent researchers (See e.g. Alix-Garcia, J., de Janvry, A., Sadoulet, E. and Torres, J., 2005. An Assessment of Mexico’s Payment for Environmental Services Program. University of California at Berkeley and CIDE for the FAO Comparative Studies Service Agricultural and Development Economics Division. and Pfaff, A., Robalino, J. And Sanchez-Azofeifa, A., 2008. Payments for Environmental Services: Emperical analysis for Costa Rica. Working Papers Series, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University.

3. Do you know of PES projects that have failed to deliver despite substantial donor support? If so, what were the reasons that caused the failure?

Significant donor support was gathered for setting up the PES scheme in Paraguay, and other countries, but in most countries it is a complete failure as it is impossible to generate sufficient funding to provide permanent payments. Even when the direct corruption is less, there are many cases of favoritism. 

2. PES can be conceived as a diverse set of policies, institutions and processes that mobilize funding from direct beneficiaries, taxpayers, consumers and other interested parties to reward/remunerate/pay providers of environmental services. Which type of PES-related policy instruments would you recommend for your own particular country and why?

1. Are PES-related policy tools applied in affluent countries with lots of off-farm employment opportunities and low population growth rates also adequate for least developed countries where farm sizes often tend to get smaller due to lack of opportunities outside agriculture?

As explained above, setting up a PES scheme does not imply that money suddenly starts to fall out of the sky. In the overwhelming majority of cases, governments will have to pay for them themselves, or at least subsidize their establishment, and for most least developed countries there are many other priorities than spending precious financial resources on schemes to permanently compensate landholders for proper environmental behaviour. As explained in the submission on non-market mechanisms attached, there are many alternatives to PES that require far less financial resources and are far more sustanable from a social, environmental and especially economic point of view. These alternatives play an important role in strengthening community governance and traditional value systems as well, which is important for the social, economic and cultural well-being of indigenous and non-indigenous communities in general.

2. What should be the role of the public sector in creating a regulatory/enabling environment for PES to deliver?  Where is public sector assistance most needed (knowledge transfer,  communal/private land rights, infrastructure, measurement of environmental quality changes, etc.)?

I feel it is fundamentally wrong if the public sector subsidies the establishment of markets in environmental services. It often creates unfair competition, as only rich countries can afford extensive PES schemes, and it makes it easier for rich farmers to compete with producers in other countries if they received additional income for "environmental services".

3. To what extent is it justified to abandon the ‘polluter pays’ principle of PES to increase agricultural productivity and reduce poverty in developing countries? Or should we use other tools to tackle these objectives separately?

Your question seems based on the wrong assumption. PES means the polluter gets paid principle, it assumes that people have a right to destroy the environment, and that they should be compensated for not doing so. So it is in square contradiction with the polluter pays principle.

3. What should be the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in making PES work for sustainable development?

See above, your question assumes that everyone would favor this policy mechanism, but many Governments, NGOs, IPOs and social movements have serious and fundamental objections against it.

1. In some cases, PES has become a vehicle for a market for environmental goods (e.g. farmers respond to a growing regional demand for trees by setting up their own tree nurseries). Do you know of other business opportunities for farmers that could arise from the implementation of a PES scheme?

2. According to your practical experience with PES, where do we need innovation to make PES more effective and what type of reward system could create such innovation?

3. Innovative landscape approaches focus on the improvement of environmental services on the landscape-level while the PES approach is focused on the remuneration of individual farmers on the field-level. How can the two approaches be reconciled?

Simone Lovera

executive director
Global Forest Coalition
Bruselas 2273




Mr. Rodolfo Valdez Garcia Comisión Nacional Forestal, Mexico

Desde un punto de vista personal con respecto a las politicas implementadas en México desde el 2003, año en que se inicio con la aplicación del proyecto de pago por servicios ambientales hidrológicos, otorgando un pago durante 5 años a gente posedora de terrenos forestales, siempre y cuando mantengan o mejoren las condicones del área apoyada.

Les puedo comentar que el programa ha evolucionado en gran medida, desde su implementación (difusión) hasta el monitoreo de los rescursos, al punto de iniciar con pagos fijos por hectarea de bosque y selva para la compensar a la gente por acciones de conservación, hasta la actualidad que se realizan pagos diferenciados por ecosistemas existentes en país dependiendo en parte de la presión economica existente.

Sin embargo el desarrollo de estos proyectos depende de la visión y objetivos que cada gobierno tenga, lo cual a mi consideración deberia de ser una de los principales puntos que se deben de analizar al respecto, no solo en México sino en cualquier país. Para el caso de México se comenzo con una inversión incial de aproximadamente 30,000 dolares en el 2003, actualmente la inversión es de aproximadamente 100,000 dolares y apoyando una superficie de 2.5 millones de ha actualmente.

Uno de los principales retos ha sido ir acoplando las nuevas politicas de cada gobierno, para que el proyecto siga manteniendo su escencia la conservación de los recursos naturales del país, por lo que hay diversos casos tanto de exito donde a pesar de que se le retira el apoyo por la conservación la gente continua conservando los recursos forestales e incluso incursionan en aprovechamientos sustentables, así como tambien hay casos que dejan de recibir apoyos y hay casos de cambio de uso de suelo. Esto se da por que México cuenta con Zonas de atención prioritaria que es muy extensa y que con los recursos que se cuanta para este proyecto no es puede cubrir todas estas áreas. 

Un factor que ha intervenido desde el 2006 es el combate a la pobreza, a lo cual se adapto el proyecto en México, sin embargo el otorgar recursos a esta áreas no es suficiente para combatir la pobreza, algo que debe de ir acompañado el recurso es la asistencia técnica, que se le enseñe a la gente en como cuidar y aprovechar sus recursos, así como una campaña de difusión local para concientizar a la gente de la importancia de la servicios ambientales que proveen los ecosistemas, y aporten recusrsos para la conservación, así cuando se retiren los apoyos gubernamentales o de organizaciones internacionales, el apoyo para la conservación de un área se siga manteniendo.

Es recomendable que cuando se quiera implementar un proyecto en cualquier país, primero se tenga que analizar su politica en materia de medio ambiente, y como segundo termino y no menos importante hablar con la gente en donde se va implementar los proyectos, es necasrio hacer estudios pilotos para identificar áreas con presiones a ser deforestadas y áreas donde grandes empresas esten utilizando los recursos y que no aportan a la conservación de estas.

Es dificil definir una estartegia global para los servicios ambientales, ya que inciden diversos factores al momento de su implementación, comenzando desde cunato se va a pagar por consevar, donde insiden los costos de oportunidad de una localidad, no se les puede pagar 30 dolares por ha, para conservar un bosque cuando la ganaderia o agricultura de ofrece el doble,  y al extrapolar esto a otras partes de un mismo país, para algunas áreas puede ser suficiente y a otros parecer insignificante. 

Pongo a su disposición el link oficila de la Comisión Nacional Forestal, donde esta vigente la las reglas para operar el convocatoria 2013 para solicitar apoyos de servicios ambientales y otros apoyos forestales,

Espero les sirvan de algo mis comentarios.



Dear moderators and FSN forum members,

I would to share my understanding on the problems to utilize benefiting opportunity of PES in developing countries. I am citing some cases in Nepal but the problems can be more serious in other countries such as Africa where the cases are poorly understood, reported or shared.

Misuses of PES and making environmental systems worse

Increase capabilities of human, animals and plant species for adaptation to climate change require forest management interventions. If communities manage their forests for getting payment for carbon, the resources and institutions (rules or contracts) of REDD create barriers to make necessary changes in forest through management interventions for increasing adaptive capacity. Production of non-timber forest products and other resources essential for sustaining forestry environmental systems are heavily degraded due to introduction of wrong forestry policies in Nepal. The need of forest management operations is being urgent in most of community forests and national parks irrespective of climate change adaptation issue. Ignoring the facts some of the international agencies have introduced the REDD project in the forest areas and are creating problems to make those changes.  For example, WWF allied with the USAID fund introduced REDD programme (Hariyo Ban Project) for biodiversity conservation in community forestry areas. One of the main problems of biodiversity conservation in the project command area is excessive suppression of understory species with biodiversity and its habitat importance by overstocked trees. The agencies completely ignored the problem and introduced the REDD project in the area for biodiversity conservation. The project agencies are doing other ways for the sake of showing they are contributing in biodiversity conservation. Similarly a REDD project (under Multi-stakeholder Forestry Project) has been introduced for increasing capacity of human community and forest adaptation to climate change under joint venture partnership of SDC (Swiss aid agency), FINIDA (Finish aid agency)and DEFID (UK aid agency). The growing problem of overstocking of trees in the forest and its negative effect in communities are well acknowledge in the project document but the agencies introduced REDD project by ignoring the REDD policy barriers to address the community problem. Nepal Foresters’ Association advocated for forestry management activity in the forestry programme but the funding agencies completely ignored the voice. The agencies rather bypassed the government system and implementing the project by a NGO formed by their ex-staffs.  In Nepal’s condition the objective of human community and forest capacity of adaptation to climate change by REDD policy can be achieved together only at low extent. Otherwise they get tradeoffs. The research findings also proved that it exists tradeoffs between climate change adaptation and mitigation outcomes of forest management (Amato et al. 2011; and Thompson et al. 2009). Despite the scientific facts and ground realities the international agencies influential in resource management are doing other way. In fact the aid agencies are using their material and symbolic powers to make Nepali community foolish and capture the resource of poor communities to offset carbon emission produced by affulient societies.
1.      Amato, A.,  Bradford,J., Fraver, S. & Palik, B. 2011. Forest management for mitigation and adaptation to climate change: Insights from long-term silviculture experiments. Forest Ecology and Management 262 803-816.
2.      Thompson, I., Mackey, B., McNulty, S., & Mosseler, A. 2009. Forest Resilience, Biodiversity, and Climate Change. A synthesis of the biodiversity/resilience/stability relationship in forest ecosystems. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal. Technical Series no. 43.
Why are not watchdogs effective in developing countries?

It requires strong institutional capacity and uninfluenced environment to work watchdog properly in society. The institutions of watchdogs are very weak in developing countries. Moreover, the watchdogs are manipulated and made dysfunction. The Federation of Community Forestry User Group Nepal (FECOFUN), for instance, is a watchdog in forestry. The body is assumed to represent the interests and act to safeguard the interests and wills of community forest users. The WWF (implement the REDD project funded by the USAID) and ICIMOD (implement the REDD project funded by NORAD) have formed business partnership with the FECOFUN to implement their REDD projects. The key leaders of the FECOFUN body are benefitted (got direct and indirect opportunities and facilities) by the project partnership so they have given little attention on the critical issues created by the REDD project. They are silent on the REDD project activities even though  the project has criminalized collection and uses of green non-timber forest products, the daily need goods for living for poor people. The ICIMOD and WWF were aware of potential social problems of REDD programme. The intention of the ICIMOD and WWF to involve the FECOFUN in project implementation is to neutralize potential confrontational position of forest user groups and escape from the blame of any wrong doing. Given the nature of the REDD projects and institutional condition of the FECOFUN it is an absolutely abuse on civil society.
Reality of bad governance

International agencies argue that failure of international development support on environmental management in developing countries is due to bad governance of government. From my understanding the problem of government in developing countries is weak institution but the bad governance is the problem of international agencies which are advising wrong policies and practices for hidden interests. The government agecnies of host countries could not reject the bad policy advices or stop the inappropriate interventions of the international agencies.
Suggestion for FAO

If FAO management is really/honestly dedicated to make benefit socially disadvantaged people in developing countries and improve environmental condition it should research to find a solution to overcome the bad governance of the international agencies. There is hardly any study in this issue. This research would make more benefit in society than the research on PES that FAO presented to discuss in this forum.
Thank you for your time to read my opnions.
Bhubaneswor Dhakal, Nepal

Mr. Assan Ngombe UNDP, Kenya

Over the last two years I have been working exploring the possibilities of integrating PES into national development programmes through the UNDP regional environment project in sub-Saharan Africa. We have under taken a number of exploratory studies and below is one of the lessons we have learnt.

PES schemes can be a powerful instrument to modify land use to ensure environmental protection and the provision of valuable ecosystem services; and also contribute to poverty reduction goals as these schemes have a potential of providing new sources of income to the poor.  

Making PES schemes pro-poor requires specific efforts to ensure informed participation by the poor –such as addressing insecure land tenure and transaction costs. PES can also have negative impacts on the poor that need to be carefully analysed and managed, such as unequal negotiation power with more organized private sector players.

For pro-poor PES schemes to reach their potential, they need to be integrated in the broader development process. More importantly, they need to be relevant for livelihood strategies of the rural inhabitants in the areas they are being introduced, particularly the poor.

Attention needs to be paid to develop the capacities of the poor to take part in PES programmes, take full advantage of the benefits, and minimise the risks associated. Capacities such as contracting and contract management, is a priority area for capacity development. Capacities for accountability also need development.

Making PES schemes pro-poor will require additional financial resources to provide for capacity needs and for upfront payments and investment without which success will be difficult to achieve.

Ensuring a supportive institutional and legal framework framework is another challenge we have identified. There are currently exists conflicting policies and legal instruments to support the implementation of PES at a national scale.


Thank you


Hans-Joerg Lehmann FOAG, Switzerland

Dear colleagues, I hope to serve you with some feedback. Don’t hesitate to contact me again.

What are the lessons learned from PES in developed and developing countries

In the past 1970 - 1993 many individual PES project were in place. Since 1993 and certainly after 2000 a process started to integrate PES more and more into the general agriculture policy. (agriculture policy in our country includes food production, rural development, safeguard marginal agriculture areas, livelihood aspects, providing services such as contribution to biodiversity, soil conservation, food security etc.). This integrated system is more comprehensible for farmers, easier manageable for the public authorities,  more effective and efficient and has a  much better visibility to taxpayer and consumer.

On the farmlevel as well as on the execution level the knowledge-demand increased very fast and is high => a longterm  advisory service is very important as well as research of new  technics,  production methodes, recycling, ressource efficency. 

The system is based on a farm level approach, not on individual surfaces. It means that on the whole farm (crop, pasture, animal etc) basic rules have to be fulfilled regarding statutory provisions (environmental-low, water protection, animal well fare, etc). In addition to that, farmers who participate in such a program follow further rules like integrated pest, soil and fertilizer management. The execution is in partnership with Cantons, CSO and private sector. In the following link you will find more in detail further information .,lnp6I0NTU042l2Z6ln1ad1IZn4Z2qZpnO2Yuq2Z6gpJCDe316gmym162epYbg2c_JjKbNoKSn6A-- Page 185 ff

To what extent is it justified to abandon the ‘polluter pays’ principle of PES to increase agricultural productivity and reduce poverty in developing countries? Or should we use other tools to tackle these objectives separately?

There is no way to abandon PPP  and there are possibilities to manage such a provision. If PPP is not applied, very difficult execution problems occur. Very, very important is to fix the minimum standard from the beginning on and to have a scheme how farmers can achieve in a certain time (2 years)  this levels. Maybe additional support (e.g. how to collect and store the manure;  education how to use pesticide or adaption of pasture management, etc) is needed in a transitional period.

Peter Steele Independent Consultant Agricultural Engineer, Italy
Peter Steele

Sustainable Cities

Payments for environmental services (PES) are not well understood by those at the sharp end of the business; it represents a sophisticated approach to resource management that can be well outside the remit of those involved with current resource use. And this, notwithstanding the logic of many of the principles behind PES. If there are people out there who are not really certain of what is involved, there is a quick introduction provided by the World Bank.[1] The messages can be summarized as: ‘Providers get’ and ‘Users pay’.

For all that, however, local socio-political decision-making frequently rides rough-shod over the value of a particularly area of natural cover, watershed, swampland and/or habitat, and much will depend upon the support given to the sometimes impoverished and ill-informed rural people, in particular, by concerned public services or NGOs.

My contribution to the debate, however, is one of placing PES within the context of ‘sustainability’ and linking this to those ever expanding urban areas – the preferred habitat of the majority of the world’s people. This raises a couple of interesting developments: 1. When everyone is living in towns and cities, the remaining 93% of the globe’s surface can be managed on the basis of best practices land/resource suitability;[2] and 2. The conceptual appreciation of cities as ‘Networks of inter-dependent and self-sustaining systems’.

I may not have expressed myself sufficiently well enough with this kind of approach, but the basis for considering it is the finite nature of the global biosphere and the difficulties that will face national and international global managers when sustaining a population >10B in a few years time with the standards that are currently enjoyed today by less than one third this number. How will the planet cope? There is need for a different way in which to consider the extent to which natural resources are consumed and, in most cases, wasted.

You can consider urban dwellers as living in a technosphere[3] wherein everything that is required for the sustenance of daily life has to be produced elsewhere and shipped into the city; and the city then becomes hostage to the life-supporting systems, infrastructure, foods, energy, water, minerals and other necessities, on the one hand, and the copious waste streams discharged into the surrounding environment, on the other.

Sure, there are glimpses of the changes already taking place with waste re-use, materials recycling, etc. which are beyond a brief consideration of the many issues involved here but, consider, the analogy of a city as a natural habitat – an urban forest, ocean, savannah grasslands or whatever - with opportunities into the long-term of making the city as sustainable as that forest; meaning no waste streams, no land-fill, no waste heat, no atmospheric discharges, etc.

Practical or futuristic? Probably both, but much will depend upon approach and understanding, and the ability of concerned people everywhere when working towards this kind of shared future. The alternatives – much of what we can see already – of competition for resources, increased consumption, waste instead of conservation and pragmatic opportunism by many of the major players – including the world’s richest 30% (meaning you and me, of course) – do not provide optimistic answers.

PES represents a small step into this kind of protective sustainability; and not before time. You only need to explore the reduced quality of the majority shallow seas, loss of natural flora/fauna, the degradation of natural forest lands – particularly those that are accessible to cities – and the decline in productive lands/soils everywhere.

It is particularly apt to explore a debate of this kind within the world’s leading international food agency given the unsuitability of many of the agro-industrial food/materials production systems that currently sustain the world. The externalities of food production should not be sacrificed on the altar of low cost; new approaches and new models are long overdue.

Peter Steele


[2] Urban land area. There is an interesting approach to the challenge of one international city housing 7B people. Check out: tp:// 93% is based upon a ‘London’ model density.

[3] Technosphere. Something of an emotive word (concept even) with different meanings according to those promoting different platforms for the way in which the world should/may continue to change into the next period.