Payments for Ecosystem Services – Lessons from Costa Rica’s 20 years of experience

This article posts during GLF 2014. See in English | Espanol
Costa Rica
People living in forested landscapes depend on the goods and services provided by these ecosystems. Payments for Ecosystem Services hold the potential for changing the way economies value these functions. Photo: CIFOR

In a newly published report, IIED assesses the benefits and drawbacks from Costa Rica’s Payments for Ecosystem Services programme.

Costa Rica’s Payments for Ecosystems Services (PES) programme has become something of an icon in the world of PES. Its hitches and successes provide a valuable source of information and inspiration for other countries interested in exploring ‘policymixes’ of economic and regulatory instruments to promote ecosystems conservation and regeneration. In this paper we explore how the governance of the PES programme has evolved over time, how the context in which it sits has changed, and how it prepares to face future challenges by incorporating new tools and strengthening its alliances with other institutions. We discuss the policies used by the programme to affect the way forests are managed and the reported outcomes on the ecosystem services they are expected to provide. Since PES is for society as much as the environment, we also look in detail at the impacts on those directly receiving PES, and what policies and personal characteristics may affect how PES funding seeps into rural economies. Also published in Spanish, this paper is aimed at local practitioners, international researchers and donors interested in the Costa Rican experience and the lessons that emerge from it.

Read the full report here.