Save the date: IIED conference on payments for ecosystem services

News, 15 January 2014
The International Institute for Environment and Development will hold a meeting on 21 March 2014 in Edinburgh to explore ways to make schemes that compensate protectors of natural resources fairer and more inclusive.

A scheme that pays farmers to protect the habitats of Ugandan chimpanzees will be discussed at IIED's PES event in March (Credit: The Dilly Lama, via Creative Commons

Such 'payments for ecosystem services' (PES) schemes have been pioneered in places such as Costa Rica. Since 1997 landowners there have been compensated for leaving forests standing and other forest-related activities that benefit downstream water users, protect biodiversity and landscape beauty and prevent carbon from entering the atmosphere.

Other PES schemes include one in Bangladesh that rewards fishing communities for not catching the threatened hilsa fish during its breeding season, and schemes where small farmers and communities sell carbon credits in the voluntary carbon market or participate in pilot projects in UN-led efforts to compensate nations that avoid deforestation.

Generally speaking though, PES schemes have tended to favour wealthier owners of larger areas of land more than small-scale farmers and local communities, who often face obstacles such as lack of formal land tenure, complex, costly application procedures and, in many cases, relatively low pay-offs.

Delegates at the IIED meeting will discuss lessons from both long-standing and new schemes on how to bridge this gap and ensure that PES does more to tackle poverty and promote sustainable livelihoods. The agenda includes sessions on:

  • Strategies to promote the inclusion of smallholders and communities in PES schemes.
  • Ensuring that the preferences and concerns of communities targeted for inclusion in PES are better understood in the design of payment mechanisms.
  • Securing finance for pro-poor PES schemes.
  • The meeting will gather people who research, implement or fund PES schemes around the world as well as people who are interested in applying similar lessons to their work in other arenas.

Speakers will present information on PES initiatives including:

  • A scheme that pays farmers to protect chimpanzee habitat in Uganda.
  • A Mexican forest community that sells carbon credits in international voluntary markets.
  • Choice experiment research in East Africa and Bangladesh which explores with communities key aspects of the design of a scheme — such as whether payments are made in cash and or in communal social benefits.

The meeting will take place at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh on 21 March 2014.

Spaces are limited so please email if you wish to attend as a journalist or vist the event page to find out more infromation and register.


Mike Shanahan
Press officer

International Institute for Environment and Development
80-86 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8NH, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)20 3463 7399
Fax: +44 (0)20 3514 9055


Notes to editors

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see:

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