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Payments for coastal and marine ecosystem services: prospects and principles

Essam Yassin Mohammed

IIED Briefing, 4 pages

Coastal and marine resources provide millions of impoverished people across the global South with livelihoods, and provide the world with a range of critical ‘ecosystem services’, from biodiversity and culture to carbon storage and flood protection. Yet across the world, these resources are fast-diminishing under the weight of pollution, land clearance, coastal development, overfishing, natural disasters and climate change. Traditional approaches to halt the decline focus on regulating against destructive practices, but to little effect. A more successful strategy could be to establish payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes, or incorporate an element of PES in existing regulatory mechanisms. Examples from across the world suggest that PES can work to protect both livelihoods and environments. But to succeed, these schemes must be underpinned by robust research, clear property rights, equitable benefit sharing and sustainable finance.

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Payments for environmental services (also known as payments for ecosystem services or PES), are payments to farmers or landowners who have agreed to take certain actions to manage their land or watersheds to provide an ecological service. As the payments provide incentives to land owners and managers, PES is a market-based mechanism, similar to subsidies and taxes, to encourage the conservation of natural resources.

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Markets and payments for environmental services

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