Headline: Ecological Economics of Payments for Ecosystem Services

With regard to biodiversity conservation, “appropriate solutions need to involve partnerships, not only between ecologists and economists, but also from a broad range of disciplines” as stated in Dasgupta et al. in 2000. However, past conversations between ecologists and economics often have led to a shift towards market-based instruments and commodification of ecosystem functions leaving out the ecological discourse in biodiversity policy as Spash wrote in 2011. Moreover, incentive-based instruments for sustainable development have attracted by policy makers. As one instrument of policies for sustainable development, the concept of payments for ecosystem services (PES) has recently become more and more prominent in both theory and practice.

PES – a voluntary payment scheme for the conservation of ecosystem services – are presented as new means to prevent further ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss, providing a development perspective for the local communities at the same time.  Yet, in the current literature a focus on ecology, actors-based approaches and institutional settings is absent – a lack which results in neither effective protection of biodiversity, nor in opening up development perspectives. This project deals with an assessment and evaluation of the environmental policy instrument Payments for Ecosystem Services. The approach taken is insofar new as an analysis focusing on actors-based approaches in different institutional contexts of interactive complex adaptive systems is still missing. Emphasizing  both, ecological and evolutionary economics as well as ecosystems ecology, the research will in particular address different types of actors and institutional settings in payments for ecosystem services schemes. Furthermore, it also contributes to the advancement of ecological and sustainability economics.

In particular, the reflections in this project at the IASS are integrated into a PhD thesis by Moritz Remig undertaken at the University of Kassel: “Ecological Economics of Payments for Ecosystem Services: Actors, Institutions, Ecology” supervised by Prof. Dr. Frank Beckenbach.

See also: Poster presented at the Planet under Pressure Conference 2012