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Tag: ecosystem services

Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change

Sandra Diaz, Josep Settele, Eduardo Brondizio, H.T. Ngo, A. Arneth, P. Balvanera, K.A. Brauman, S.H.M. Butchart, K.M.A. Chan, L.A. Garibaldi, K. Ichii, J. Liu, S.M. Subramanian, G.F. Midgley, P. Miloslavish, Z. Molnar, D. Obura, A. Pfaff, S. Polasky, A. Purvis, J. Razzaque, B. Reyers, R.R. Chowdury, Y. Shin, I. Visseren-Hamakers, K.J. Willis, C.N. Zayas
Science 366 DOI:10.1126/science.aaw3100

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The human impact on life on Earth has increased sharply since the 1970s, driven by the demands of a growing population with rising average per capita income. Nature is currently supplying more materials than ever before, but this has come at the high cost of unprecedented global declines in the extent and integrity of ecosystems, distinctness of local ecological communities, abundance and number of wild species, and the number of local domesticated varieties. Such changes reduce vital benefits that people receive from nature and threaten the quality of life of future generations. Both the benefits of an expanding economy and the costs of reducing nature’s benefits are unequally distributed. The fabric of life on which we all depend — nature and its contributions to people — is unravelling rapidly. Despite the severity of the threats and lack of enough progress in tackling them to date, opportunities exist to change future trajectories through transformative action. Such action must begin immediately, however, and address the root economic, social, and technological causes of nature’s deterioration.

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Summary for Policy Makers, IPBES Global Assessment

Sandra Diaz, Josep Settele, Eduardo Brondizio, H.T. Ngo, A. Arneth, P. Balvanera, K.A. Brauman, S.H.M. Butchart, K.M.A. Chan, L.A. Garibaldi, K. Ichii, J. Liu, S.M. Subramanian, G.F. Midgley, P. Miloslavish, Z. Molnar, D. Obura, A. Pfaff, S. Polasky, A. Purvis, J. Razzaque, B. Reyers, R.R. Chowdury, Y. Shin, I. Visseren-Hamakers, K.J. Willis, C.N. Zayas
Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Global Assessment 2019

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The rate of global change in nature during the past 50 years is unprecedented in human history. The direct drivers of change in nature with the largest global impact have been (starting with those with most impact): changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasion of alien species. Those five direct drivers result from an array of underlying causes – the indirect drivers of change – which are in turn underpinned by societal values and behaviours that include production and consumption patterns, human population dynamics and trends, trade, technological innovations and local through global governance. The rate of change in the direct and indirect drivers differs among regions and countries.

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Collective Local Payments for Ecosystem Services: new local PES between groups, sanctions, and prior watershed trust in Mexico

Alexander Pfaff, Luz Angela Rodriguez, Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza
Water Resources and Economics 28 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wre.2019.01.002

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Payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs are now high in number, if not always in impact. When groups of users pay groups of service providers, establishing PES involves collective action. We study the creation of collective PES institutions, and their continuation, as group coordination. We use framed lab-in-field experiments with hydroservices users and providers within watersheds participating in Mexico’s Matching Funds program in Veracruz, Yucatan and Quintana Roo states. We explore the coordination of contributions between downstream users and upstream providers, plus effects of different types of sanctions that can affect expectations for both users and providers. Both information alone and sanctions raise contributions overall, although outcomes varied by site in line with our rankings of ‘watershed trust’. For instance, monetary sanctions raise contributions in the watershed we ranked high in trust, yet initially lowered them for the lowest-trust watershed. This suggests that upstream-downstream social capital will be central to new collective local PES, while our overall trends suggest social capital can be raised by successful coordination over time.

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Nature can deliver on the SDGs

Brendan Fisher, Diego Herrera, Diane Adams, Helen E. Fox, Louise Gallagher, Drew Gerkey, David Gill, Christopher D. Golden, David Hole, Kiersten Johnson, Mark Mulligan, Samuel S. Myers, Robin Naidoo, Alexander Pfaff, Ranaivo Rasolofoson, Elizabeth Selig, David Tickner, Timothy Treuer, Taylor Ricketts
Lancet Planetary Health

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The increasing availability of data and improved analytic techniques now enable us to better understand when and where investing in nature can deliver net benefits for people − especially with respect to the most vulnerable populations in developing countries. These advances open the door for efficient interventions that can advance multiple SDGs at once. Recently, we harmonized a suite of global datasets to explore the critical nexus of forests, poverty and human health – an overlap of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6 and 15. Our approach combined demographic and health surveys for 297,112 children in 35 developing countries with data describing the local environmental conditions for each child4 (Fig. 1a; see online materials for details). This allowed us to estimate the effect forests may play in supporting human health, while controlling for the influence of important socio-economic differences. We extended this work to look at how forests affect three childhood health concerns of global significance – stunting, anemia, and diarrheal disease.

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Contracts versus Trust for Transfers of Nature’s Services: equity and efficiency in resource allocation and environmental provision

Alexander Pfaff, Maria Alejandra Velez, Amar Hamoudi, Renzo Taddei, Kenneth Broad
Water Resources & Economics 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wre.2018.04.001

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Managing natural-resource allocation and environmental externalities is a challenge. Institutional designs are central when improving water quality for downstream users, for instance, and when reallocating water quantities including for climate adaptation. Views differ on which institutions are best: states; markets; or informal institutions. For transfers of ecosystem services, we compare informal trust-based institutions to enforced contracts, both being institutional types we observe commonly in the field. The trust-based institutions lack binding promises, thus ecosystem-services suppliers are unsure about the compensation they will receive for transferring services to users. We employ decision experiments given the shortcomings of the alternative methods for empirical study of institutions, as well as the limits on theoretical prediction about behaviors under trust. In our bargaining game that decouples equity and efficiency, we find that enforced contracts increased efficiency as well as all measures of equity. This informs the design of institutions to manage transfers of ecosystem services, as equity in surplus sharing is important in of itself and in permitting efficient allocation.

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Increasing the Impact of Collective Incentives in Payments for Ecosystem Services

David A. Kaczan, Alexander Pfaff, Luz A. Rodriguez, Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jeem.2017.06.007

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Collective payments for ecosystem services (PES )programs make payments to groups, conditional on specified aggregate land-management outcomes.Such collective contracting may be well suited to settings with communal land tenure or decision-making. Given that collective contracting does not require costly individual-level information on outcomes, it may also facilitate conditioning on additionality (i.e., conditioning payments upon clearly improved outcomes relative to baseline). Yet collective contracting often suffers from free-riding, which undermines group outcomes and may be exacerbated or ameliorated by PES designs. We study impacts of conditioning on additionality within a number of collective PES
designs. We use a framed field-laboratory experiment with participants from a new PES program in Mexico. Because social interactions are critical within collective processes, we assess the impacts from conditioning on additionality given: (1) group participation in contract design, and (2) a group coordination mechanism. Conditioning on above-baseline outcomes raised contributions, particularly among initially lower contributors. Group participation in contract design increased impact, as did the coordination mechanism.

 

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