INVALUABLE PhD thesis defended – March 15th, 2016 (Montpellier, France – English abstract available)

15th of March 2016, 14h00
Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier

Economic analysis of payments for environmental services in the least developed countries: institutions, motivations, effectiveness. The case of Cambodia

Defended by Colas Chervier


This thesis aims to understand the mechanisms through which Payments for Environmental Services (PES) emerge and influence the effective conservation of natural ecosystems in Cambodia.

It also contributes to the operationalization of institutional conceptual frameworks for the analysis of PES. These frameworks develop pragmatic and partially holistic approaches that are largely based on theories and concepts from institutional economics. The originality of this study is twofold. It focuses in one of the world’s least developed countries where the institutional context is significantly different from Central American countries where most PES institutional analyses have been conducted. It is also backed by rigorous impact measures, which allow evidencing causal links between processes and outcomes.

The thesis analyzes the emergence of Cambodian PES schemes and seeks to explain why in some cases they lead to political blockages that slow or prevent their implementation.

PES appear to be the result of political processes (negotiations) influenced by pre-existing institutions and in which some stakeholders, such as the Government and NGOs, seek to influence decisions related to the definition of new rules for the use of natural resources so that they align with their interests. The thesis also seeks to measure and explain the environmental effectiveness of one community-PES.

The case study leads to the effective conservation of forests even when the external pressure increases. However, this effect depends on some characteristics of the local socio-economic context, probably because they influence the likelihood of local collective management of forests, which the scheme aims to strengthen. In addition, the permanence of these effects is not guaranteed in the long run. The program has indeed eroded some perceptions of use values ​​of forest conservation, which are, in a context of poverty and strong dependence of local communities on natural resources, the foundation for partially intrinsic motivation to conserve.

See PDF (French): Detail de la soutenance Colas CHERVIER