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

David Mwayafu Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development, Uganda
David Mwayafu

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

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

The main challenge of PES scheme in Uganda is lack of policy and national strategy in support of the pace programmes in country. The opportunity in Uganda are there for PES scheme for instance the Trees for Global Benefits that works with the farmers as tree growers for carbon sequestration. The existence of the Natural resources such as the Central Forest reserves under National Forestry Authority and National Parks under the Uganda Wildlife Authority. These areas are watershed management, biodiversity / wildlife conservation areas and carbon sequestration.

b) 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?  

Trees for Global Benefit have been one the most successful PES project in Uganda. Despite some complains among the carbon producers it remains one of the most success projects that one can easily look at. Another example is the Mt. Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP) with its REDD+ pilot which offers alternative income generating activities and through community Revolving funds it has been highly successful. What needs to be done is replicating such good initiatives to other areas. The main challenge here is that some projects can work well in a given community but then when taken to other communities they fail due to the cultural set up of the communities and other factors such awareness and education levels.

c) 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?

Mount Elgon area had a challenge when the FACE foundation project was implemented because of the design problem where the local people were not well sensitized hence they could not promote the project but instead it turned out to be the main source of conflict between the management and the communities who were viewed as encroachers. But the situation is different with MERECP programme.

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?

a) 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?

Policies and strategies needs to be country specific because of the different circumstances so that at the end of the day the local circumstance plays a major role in determining how the policies can easily be implemented otherwise it will remain as a stumbling block in implementation of the PES Schemes. Policies should give clear framework in terms of how to operationalise the PES schemes with clear ideas on how the beneficiaries are selected and what are the roles and mode of engagement.

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

The public sector can offer services from policy development, knowledge transfer, and communal / private land rights by offering security of tenure, infrastructure, measurement of the environmental quality changes and even ensuring that the benefits are delivered to the local communities. Awareness and knowledge transfer is work that can be left most to NGOs so that they can also contribute the conservation efforts and promote the replications of the best practices and documenting them.

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

a) 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?

For PES to be successful the issue and the question of the livelihood of the community must remain the main focus for any PES project to Succeed. Unless the programme answers the questions of livelihoods it will not succeed even if it has much donor blessings and support.

b) 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?

There is no any single approach on how to make PES more effective it depends on various factors. For PES to be more efficient the communities need to be part of the design, let the benefits or reward reach the target beneficiaries for this case the communities. Allow the communities use the money from PES as part of livelihood improvement as it’s the case with Mount Elgon. Some communities they only need support and through the community revolving fund they have been able to get support and increase on their savings and improve on their livelihoods. The payment should be done in groups so that the groups can help in the co-management of the natural resources such as the national park and central forest reserves in the case of Uganda. For Instance in our toolkit on proposed benefit sharing in Mount Elgon: A toolkit to assess proposed benefit sharing and revenue distribution schemes of community REDD+ projects. The most interesting aspect of Mt. Elgon case is that the funds avoid so many middle men agencies’ by directly transferring the funds from the fund’s managers LVBC to the Community Based Organisations.

c) 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?

Sometimes where the community is adjacent to the National Park or the central reserve and have limited land for PES they can enter into collaborative forest management so that they can be able to contribute to the management of the Protected areas as a group and not individuals. This helps in improving the relationship between the park management and the local communities.