Finding Innovative Ways to Protect the EnvironmentRATIONALE
Too often, natural areas such as forests, grasslands, and streams are taken for granted, abused, or even destroyed despite their ecological value and the often-enormous economic benefits they provide to communities, regions, and nations. However, a new initiative called Payment for Environmental Services (PES) has the potential to improve that situation. By means of PES, those who benefit from a natural resource pay the people who manage and protect it—for example, a city that gets clean drinking water from a river would pay upstream communities not to deforest hillsides, which would lead to increased runoff, siltation, and pollution.
Putting a monetary value on natural ecosystems not only preserves biodiversity but provides income to poor communities and offers a tangible incentive to protect natural areas.
PES offers great potential to protect ecosystems in developing countries. For it to work, though, stakeholders must be convinced of its value and effectiveness. In Asia, for instance, several PES projects are planned or under way that could bring environmental and economic benefits. Some issues that need to be addressed include program objectives and their impact on program design (e.g., natural resources management vs. poverty alleviation); types of services being addressed; types of service providers; private-sector involvement; incentive mechanisms; transaction costs; and long-term sustainability and effectiveness of PES programs.
Does PES actually change behaviors and create environmental stewards? Are service buyers and beneficiaries receiving environmental services in accordance to the terms and conditions of PES agreements? Are the intended environmental service and poverty-alleviation benefits being achieved?
In this project, Winrock International will study watershed-based PES programs in Asia to provide answers to these questions and clarify the programs' effectiveness.
Winrock will present and lead a discussion on watershed-based PES during a global workshop in Lombok, Indonesia; compile a regional assessment on watershed-related PES in Asia; contribute one or more case studies to a training manual/primer to be used to train USAID personnel in PES program management; and participate in a Washington policy seminar on PES at USAID, tentatively planned for July, 2007.