There is significant potential for payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, protect the environment and respond to climate change – but more needs to be done to support their implementation worldwide, according to a new Clim-Eat-led policy brief published today.
Compensating farmers for ecosystem services: lessons and an agenda for innovation was produced by the CompensACTION initiative, funded by Clim-Eat, the Netherlands Food Partnership, the German Development Agency (GIZ), Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and USAID. The initiative aims to support G7 countries and their partners in developing large-scale PES programmes involving smallholder farmers in low- and lower-middle income countries.
PES schemes typically provide farmers and other land managers with financial compensation to encourage sustainable land use. The brief provides policymakers with insights into how PES programmes can boost the incomes of smallholder farmers in particular, contribute to the supply of carbon credits, and support climate change adaptation and mitigation, among other environmental outcomes. It draws lessons from established schemes in Colombia, Kenya, Indonesia, Costa Rica, and elsewhere.
“When it comes to climate change and the need for sustainable food systems, we often talk about agriculture being both part of the problem and part of the solution,” said lead author Lini Wollenberg of Clim-Eat and the University of Vermont. “This policy brief shows how agriculture can be part of the solution, and specifically how smallholder farmers in some of the poorest countries can play a key role.”
“PES schemes offer a way for smallholder farmers to increase and diversify their incomes while at the same time protecting vital landscapes and responding to the challenges of climate change,” she continued. “We’re not just talking double or triple wins here – we could be talking quadruple or more.”
With demand for marketable PES schemes currently outstripping supply, the policy brief offers insights into the challenges and opportunities involved in establishing effective schemes, including recommendations on low-cost outcome monitoring, public-private financing mechanisms and policy reform.