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

Mr. Timo Beiermann Consultant, Germany

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?

In Indonesia unclear tenure and harmonization of stakeholders interests (e.g. on various government levels and between agencies, same as citizens and farmer groups or communities). Hidden interests in case of resources and exploitation by private investors and supporting agencies can effect projects when under implementation. I guess situation is much similar in other developing countries.

Especially economic driven fast unsustainable development does not match with sustainable ideas promoted in PES subjects, conflicts might be evident.

Opportunities might be limited resources and stress on ecosystem services which might tend for a rethinking of strategies same as questions how to combine rural development with conservation constraints to create benefits for communities. This could maybe address local levels In case of REDD the complex methodologies and conceptual design might be an issue, even if the efforts could innovate forest  management tor better support a set of base data and finally increase situation in governance of forest resources.

  1. 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?

In my personal opinion combined PES for watershed management and biodiversity approaches integrated with rural development approaches using Micro Hydropower, Forest conservation and Agroforestry would have best opportunities. It is good to provide visible activities with direct benefit as starting point for any activities, later on carbon sequestration could be included if it will work successful in future. In REDD context starting in a voluntary framework above mentioned combination could be a good entrance to support trust building with related stakeholders.

  1. 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?

Unsecure tenure and lack of information management could bring PES projects in critical states. As many agencies are involved in spatial planning and concession issuance this could harm projects and make them fail finally, e.g. REDD projects where 50.000 ha are seen as minimum and it could happen that parts of REDD DA could get lost because others hidden plans might be existing in case of mining. 

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?

For sure they make sense especially in development countries, because they can introduce partly also the matter why conservation is necessary and enlightens benefits. Often no awareness is in place for subjects related to environmental impact assessment and even if regulations are in place missing knowledge or weak methodological approaches create an insufficient result and copy paste is used widely. Especially Management and Spatial Decision Support Tools can generate more efficient decision processes and secure tenure or increase management different levels of ownership.

  1. 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.)?

At least government sector should provide clear tenure schemes. Capacity building could be also supported public sector if appropriate institutions are already in place.

  1. 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?


I guess it is not useful to abandon the  ‘polluter pays’ principle. This could indeed increase awareness about harmful activities. E.g. overuse of pesticides "because if you use more it is better" which seems to me common in many cases.

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

  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?

Agroforestry production schemes with ecologic/ organic focus combined with climate change adaption could promote drinking water protection and increase biodiversity in general (see also under 2 and 3)

  1. 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?

I guess the simplest reward would be the easiest: by having impacts for agriculture and improving livelihood. Agroforestry for watershed protection and including also reforestation as climate change adaption. By supporting organic methods and improve ecosystem services better harvest and for certified products (cocoa, rubber e.g.) higher income could be a benefit.

  1. 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?

Promote PES in Micro watersheds could be an opportunity also to enforce policies towards IWRM in general! It can be used for drinking water protection within small entities and combined with rural electrification (MHPP). In Kalimantan it can support forest protection and meet local customary law also, where customary lands inherit forests for livelihood support (water, hunting, fruits). Laws for HCV recognizing these are in place but not monitored and slightly practiced in case of Indonesia. Here it could promote law enforcement and combine it with livelihood subjects and climate change adaption.