Payment for environmental services in low‐and middle‐income countries: effects on environmental and socioeconomic outcomes

Added June 11, 2021

Citation: Snilsveit B, Stevenson J, Langer L, et al. Incentives for climate mitigation in the land use sector—the effects of payment for environmental services on environmental and socioeconomic outcomes in low‐and middle‐income countries: A mixed‐methods systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2019;44:e1045.

What is this? Unsustainable practices in the land use sector contribute to climate change through the release of greenhouse gases. Economic incentive-based programmes aim to change behaviour to preserve or restore ecosystems services. Payment for Environmental Services (PES) is an approach where users of an environmental service pay the owners of the service, conditional on the change in behaviour.

In this mixed-methods systematic review, the authors searched for studies of PES in low- and middle-income countries on populations living in or near to forests, agricultural land, wetlands, grasslands and mangroves. They did not restrict their searches by language or status of publication and did the search in September 2017. They included 44 impact evaluations and 60 qualitative studies.

What was found: There is low and very low quality evidence that PES programmes might increase household income from non-agricultural sources and agricultural sources, reduce deforestation and improve forest cover.

PES programmes might improve environmental outcomes in some settings and contexts.

The effects of PES programmes vary, depending on where and to whom projects are targeted, the quality of implementation, presence of governance structures, contextual factors, and attitudes towards environmental protection and towards PES itself.

Uptake of PES programmes is determined by many factors including income, land size, availability of labour, opportunity cost, social norms and capital and the state of the ecosystem service.

The cost-effectiveness of PES programmes for socio-economic outcomes is uncertain.

The effects of PES programmes on greenhouse gas emissions or forest condition are uncertain.


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