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Versión Español | July 2013


Payments for Environmental Services (PES), a tool for the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems

The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems have accelerated in recent years worldwide. This threat can also represent an opportunity for a region as rich in natural resources as Latin America and the Caribbean through the implementation of innovative tools such as Payments for Environmental Services (PES). The PSE mechanism is increasingly being used in countries in the region as a way to recognize the value of natural resources and to provide an effective means for the long term conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems.

The central idea of this mechanism is that the beneficiaries of environmental services pay providers and custodians of local natural resources for adopting practices that ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems. Thus, by compensating local stakeholders for their conservation efforts, the PES promotes the conservation of natural resources and at the same time the economic and social development of rural areas.

The implementation of PES schemes represents practical and institutional challenges for the countries of the region. To address these challenges, the Department of Sustainable Development of the OAS-SEDI and the Dirección Ejecutiva Nacional de Honduras del Plan Trifinio joined efforts in the realization of the Fourth Edition of the International Course "Design and Implementation of Payments for Environmental Service Schemes" and a series of events aimed at building capacity for the design and implementation of PES.

Impact beyond the course: Carlos Soncco, participant from Peru in the 2nd PES Course recently shared his experience with the OAS, highlighting the value of both the knowledge acquired and the network of contacts established at the course. He also mentioned that as a major post-course achievement, he coordinated the 3rd edition of the course in Peru and that subsequently "several courses have been developed in different regions of the country, which have served to energize various initiatives for the local and regional implementation of PES mechanisms."
Mr. Soncco is an Advisor on Environmental Financing Instruments for the Sustainable Rural Development Program (PDRS) of the German Cooperation (GIZ) in Peru

The course was held in Copan Ruinas, Honduras, from July 22 to 26, 2013. It was attended by 45 participants (30 from Honduras and 15 from other OAS Latin American member States) including government officials and civil society representatives. During the course, the theory imparted on the design and implementation of PES mechanisms was complemented with practical skills acquired through a field visit to the Mancomunidad Macizo de Montecristo, a site with a unique biodiversity and where a community of women is successfully implementing a PES scheme.

Additionally, 40 city Mayors from the Trifinio-Honduras region participated in a lecture attended by the Vice President, His Excellency Victor Barnica Alvarado and the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Sustainable Development of Honduras (CONADES), Mr. Francis Contreras. Other international experts also participated and exchanged experiences from their different perspectives with Mayors and other local authorities.

Scientists and policymakers agree in recognizing that these types of conservation efforts are more effective because they involve actors from civil society and the private sector in an innovative way. Additionally, the use of PES contributes to improving the livelihood of communities in the region that are compensated for their conservation efforts.

In its four editions, the OAS-SEDI has trained nearly 200 government officials and civil society representatives in the region on PES schemes and continues to promote regional exchange of information, experience and lessons learned on the subject. This is expected to strengthen national efforts to protect ecosystems and the services they provide as a strategic element for sustainable development in the region.

For more information, visit the course’s webpage.

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