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

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.