Re: Payments for environmental services (PES) in theory and practice: Lessons learned and way forward

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