Work Package Two



Evaluating Impacts of MBIs

Building on this new conceptual framework and common research questions, 11 INVALUABLE case studies, carried out in 8 countries, aimed at evaluating the environmental effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and equity of PES and BO. For such an analysis, methods employed ranged from strict impact effectiveness assessments based on treated versus control units and econometric analysis (Bailys et al., 2015), to largely qualitative analysis of institutions, governance and equity based on literature review, interviews and participant observation. Figure 3 below summarizes for each case study, the research questions and methodology, the studied scheme’s characteristics as well as the actors involved.


Main characteristics of WP2 case studies

Figure 3: INVALUABLE case studies: an overview
Source: INVALUABLE Concept Paper (2015b), “Governing biodiversity and ecosystem services through market-based instruments? Theory and practice for decision-makers”



Quantitative studies in Mexico and Cambodia (Costedoat et al., 2015; Chervier, In preparation) demonstrate that PES can have a positive impact on forest conservation. Payments for biodiversity conservation in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, have for instance contributed to additional reduced deforestation of more than 10%, which means that for each 100 hectares of forests’ payments, the latter contribute to protect 10 hectares that would have been otherwise deforested by agricultural development or cattle raising enterprises (see Figure 4). Similarly in Cambodia, deforestation has also substantially diminished in the conservation easement lands compared to other neighbouring, although such reduction has been more significant in remotely-located easements than in those closer to in-built infrastructure and cities. In Germany’s biodiversity offsetting scheme, Mazza and Schiller (2014) also show that specific environmental restoration is underway in several sites; however the permanence of such positive impacts over time cannot be assured given the lack of strong government monitoring.


Figure 4: Additional environmental effectiveness of PES in Chiapas, Mexico
Source: Ezzine de Blas and Corbera, 2015, presentation at the final INVALUABLE Conference, Paris, 19 june 2015

Going further still, INVALUABLE studies show that changing productive systems result in longer-term gains than paying to conserve. PES schemes analysed in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Brazil, have indeed been shown to foster investment in sustainable environmental-friendly farming strategies. Guatemala’s PINFOR program promotes local reforestation efforts geared at establishing future commercial plantations and covers its full set-up costs, provided that such plantations thrive in good quality and are made productive (Le Coq and Sandoval, In preparation). Costa Rica’s program aims to promote a transition to organic agriculture and sustainable cattle production. Nevertheless, the fact that payments are made ex-post and that they do not fully cover the costs of adopted actions have significantly decreased the additionality of the scheme (Lamour et al., In preparation). The Brazilian project, on the contrary, which combines ex-ante payment with an individually-targeted investment plan for each participant farmer, has led to broad participation and is already translating into positive environmental outcomes (Simonet et al., Under review).



PES and BO are new institutions that, when ‘parachuted’ into rural contexts, interact with existing complex socio-ecological systems. These systems, local or regional, are already made up of multi-layered and dynamic institutions and governance systems that jointly determine how natural resources are managed, by whom and for whose benefit, and they embed specific socio-political processes and cultural dynamics which also determine the environmental characteristics of such systems. For PES and BO to be environmentally and socially successful then, the new institutional rules need to “fit” with or be adapted to these existing dynamics and both new and already existing actors will have to coordinate and cooperate. As a result, institutional design has largely varied across case studies (Figure 3). The European cases include one case of a more sophisticated, market-based, offsetting scheme in Germany and two cases of agri-environment measures that resemble public state subsidies for conservation in managed agricultural landscapes. Case studies in developing countries also differ, including: public-driven programmes of payments for watershed and biodiversity services (Mexico), developed at either national or regional scales; public incentives for the adoption of more sustainable farming and forestry practices (Costa Rica and Guatemala); and four projects of conditional payments for biodiversity conservation (Cambodia), watershed services (Indonesia) or carbon mitigation (Brazil and Mexico), which are implemented at sub-regional and local levels and combine both public and private market finance.

Against this backdrop INVALUABLE analysis has evidenced the need for -and risks of- institutional intersections and procedural equity in designing and implementing PES and BO (Figure 5). Indeed, the adoption of agri-environmental measures by all kind of farmers (small and large-scale) in the Walloon region, Belgium, for instance effectively increases when a hybrid combination of non-governmental and government actors cooperate to persuade farmers about the advantages of pursuing environmentally sound measures (Dedeurwaerdere et al., 2015). Seemingly, the increasing participation of farmers in one of the studied PES schemes in Mexico can also be partly explained by the fact that the NGO in charge of the project has been adaptive to local resource management contexts and effective in delivering payments. The organisation’s legitimacy as a PES broker has thus increased over time across the state of Chiapas and beyond (Hendrickson and Corbera, 2015). In these case studies, technical intermediaries play a critical role in equitably connecting different stakeholders as complementary enablers of rural development strategies (see Lapeyre et al. 2015 for the Indonesian case).


Figure 5: When equity matter for environment effectiveness
Source, Pascual et al. 2014:4

Distributive equity similarly matter, INVALUABLE research shows. In Cambodia, Guatemala and Mexico, where tenure regimes are ultimately collective, benefit sharing becomes critical to understand social outcomes. Hendrickson and Corbera (2015) show that the way the scheme has been designed allows informal right holders in a common property regime to participate in the project, allocating a share of their families’ managed lands into the program. This highlights that as a result of such involvement, these informal right holders have become more empowered in natural resource management and decision-making at community level, now actively partnering with land titled farmers. Another case study in Chiapas reports a similar finding in a community receiving biodiversity conservation payments, which allow both formal and informal landholders to benefit from payments. The latter have then used their participation to stake further claims on their managed, but yet not owned cultivated lands, and they feel now more entitled to benefit from environmental services (Costedoat et al.,Under review).



INVALUABLE evidence also identified two main weaknesses regarding the likelihood that PES and BO meet ambitious environmental goals. On the one hand, most cases are limited in their capacity to enrol parcels with high opportunity costs, and are thus partially unable to reverse the most harmful degrading activities (Russi et al., 2014; Lapeyre et al; 2015). Schemes very often target lands with low to middle opportunity costs or the activities to be adopted only represent a small addition to the resource management strategies already underway. Case studies in Germany, Belgium, Costa Rica and Guatemala show that payment level and payment sustainability over time is key to determine enrolment rates (Russi et al., 2014; Dedeurwaerdere et al., 2015; Le Coq and Sandoval, In preparation; Lamour et al., Under review). This in turn poses a difficult political question, i.e. how long are we willing to sustain payments for environmental conservation?
On the other hand, PES and BO may have a longer-term impact on participants’ intrinsic motivations. In Indonesia and Cambodia for example, intrinsic motivations can play a more important role than economic incentives when enrolling farmers in the scheme (Lapeyre et al., 2015; Chervier, Under review); hence the danger of changing pro-conservation behaviour into a utilitarian conservation ethos—no pay, no conservation—is real and currently happening. Fitting the design of PES schemes to factors that increase satisfaction, such as autonomy, fostering personal development and social relatedness, is the way forward, yet to be explored, for minimizing such threat (Ezzine-de-Blas et al., Under review).