The Effectiveness of Payments for Environmental Services

Jan Börner, Kathy Baylis, Esteve Corbera, Driss Ezzine-de-Blas, Jordi Honey-Rosés, U. Martin Persson, Sven Wunder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We adopt a theory-based approach to synthesize research on the effectiveness of payments for environmental services in achieving environmental objectives and socio-economic co-benefits in varying contexts. Our theory of change builds on established conceptual models of impact pathways and highlights the role of (1) contextual dimensions (e.g., political, institutional, and socio-economic conditions, spatial heterogeneity in environmental service values and provision costs, and interactions with pre-existing policies), and (2) scheme design (e.g., payment type and level, contract length, targeting, and differentiation of payments) in determining environmental and socio-economic outcomes. To shed light on the overall effectiveness of payment schemes, and its determinants, we review counterfactual-based empirical evaluations, comparative analyses of case-studies, and meta-analyses. Our review suggests that program effectiveness often lags behind the expectations of early theorists. However, we also find that theory has advanced sufficiently to identify common reasons for why payment schemes fail or succeed. Moreover, payment schemes are often rolled out along with other policy instruments in so-called policy mixes. Advances in theory and evaluation research are needed to improve our understanding of how such policy mixes interact with the targeted social-ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-374
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Development
Volume96
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Keywords

  • environmental effectiveness
  • impact evaluation
  • payments for ecosystem services
  • policy design
  • trade-offs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

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    Börner, J., Baylis, K., Corbera, E., Ezzine-de-Blas, D., Honey-Rosés, J., Persson, U. M., & Wunder, S. (2017). The Effectiveness of Payments for Environmental Services. World Development, 96, 359-374. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.03.020