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

Mr. Emmanuel Suka Association of Friends of Limbe Botanic Garden, Cameroon

Hi Moderator,

I submit herewith my humble contributions to PES discussion as follows;

1. Some of the lessons learned from PES in developed and developing countries are;

a) - PES activities are inefficient because of lack of an equitable incentive scheme thus, the financial benefits are unevenly distributed leaving out real actors who are supposed to be the rural poor, and due to inaccessibility are often relegated to the background.

- PES doesn't have a management structure with defined action plan or programme, this often create confusion or mixup of projects. Moreover, persons and groups that require particular needs and express wish to participate in PES projects don't know who to contact, moreso, one doesn't know who is doing what, where, when, and who to approach and for what kind of projects?.

- PES projects most often don't reflect the local environmental contexts and realities, with little socio-economic consideration of local people's rights and concerned communities that are major actors. Projects often are planned at big public offices with political elites, know-hows, and the haves  because they have the means to reach the project donor or rather a preferred choice of the donor without seeking the opinion of local stakeholders.

- Because PES have no defined policies, it negatively impacts on its activities.

- PES strategy needs to be revised to include Best Available Technologies packages, and capacity building to deliver to stakeholders who will facilitate implementation of PES activities.

- PES doesn't have field and on the spot system of monitoring and evaluation of its activities instead through online is inappropriate. Projects should be followed up to ensure they are successfully implemented and data collected with establishment of PES  data bank.

- PES should develop a business plan to start with to be able to measure progress of its projects.

- PES should address quantify and value issues of indigenous rights including knowledge, innovation and practice.

b) Some successful PES projects that I know of is the recently created Mt Cameroon National Park. However, implementers of PES projects sometimes make fake promises to local stakeholders who are mostly the indigenous communities and true actors on the field. It  is often very discouraging, for example, the boundary tracing and opening of the Mt Cameroon National Park was conceived as a programme to involve all surrounding villages on the mountain to participate in the activity.  This was to serve as some kind of indirect benefits and incentive to locals but upon execution, some villages were intentionally left out.

- Some PES projects fail because they may not be the rightful priority of the concerned communities, thus careful consideration must be made when designing PES projects, for example, alternative income generating activities such as rearing of animals and birds, or provision of particular type of improved agricultural crops to farmers may not be helpful and can create a negative impact in the community where the protected area is created especially if there's no enough  buffer zone for the local populations. Also, land scarcity and arable land problems for farming can arise and serve as a big drive to invasion of the park for farmland, more especially if animal rearing etc is not the culture of the particular community will be an uphill task habit to change.

2. The type of policy that I recommend is closed loop policy and not opened loop. The policy should have commitments with defined obligations for concerned parties, with no room for free-riding by members. This will prevent  abandonment of prevents and ensure stability and continuity.

a). Opportunities outside agriculture are rare in least developed countries with high population growth rates mostly require more off-farm employment opportunities to reduce pressures on forests.

b). Environmental Governance/decision-making of PES should be revised to take in to account African local environmental context for PES to deliver properly and efficiently.

c) Most farming systems in Africa are small scale with insignificant pollution therefore, the " Polluter Pays Principle" doesn't count so much in African agricultural set up so can't be given substance in developing countries.

3. The role of innovation and entrepreneurship in making PES work for sustainable development will include;

a) - Creation of PES micro-finance schemes and institutions to facilitate financial resource availability. This ensures efficiency and project's lifespan, long term with greater opportunities and benefits for the project's goal and the poor who often do not have access to funding whereas funded projects are always short-lived.

- Design alternative income generating activities e.g Animal rearing, honey farming, flower gardening and sales etc.

b)- Promote Agroforestry farming systems by providing farmers with improved viable hybrid seedlings.

- Develop training manuals for PES projects.

c) Employ Integrated ecosystems management approach in natural resource management to recover depleted forests and agricultural farmlands can render them more productive.
This will be my humble submission at moment.