Payments for environmental services: what is good practice?

A new policy briefing from the SINCERE project draws on global PES experiences to provide insights for policymakers on the best practices and pre-conditions for successful PES implementation in Europe.

Photo: nejdetduzen on Adobe Stock

Payments for environmental services (PES)—also known as “payments for ecosystem services”— have become increasingly popular worldwide over the last two decades. However, the vast majority of these experiences have been outside of Europe. While most PES globally are forest-focussed, agri-environmental schemes dominate in Europe and other industrialised regions.

These interesting dynamics raise some questions: Why have PES emerged much more in some regions (the Americas, Australia) than in others (Europe, Africa)? What can Europe learn from more advanced regions? Are there important in-country differences in PES preconditions? And, how can policymakers better address and adapt to these differences?

A new policy brief, Payments for environmental services: what is good practice?, from the SINCERE (Spurring INnovations for forest eCosystem sERvices in Europe) project draws on insights from our 2020 report, What works? State-of-the-art synthesis report about best-practice design and implementation of PES and other forest IM in the European context, and a scientific article summarising the main lessons in the light of the ongoing academic debate about PES. The brief seeks to answer the key questions outlined above, and provide recommendations for policymakers on the best practices – and optimal circumstances – to implement PES successfully in Europe.

Photo: bilanol on Adobe Stock.

Drawing on state-of-the-art knowledge about global PES experiences, the brief explores the pre-conditions, design and implementation, and contextual factors of PES in Europe. It seeks to provide a systematic, yet accessible overview of best practices in PES, and their environmental impacts. From that basis, the brief provides tentative reflections on the circumstances under which PES could also be implemented more successfully in Europe.

The SINCERE Project, part of Horizon 2020, aims to contribute to the development of a coordinated European policy framework for forest ecosystem services that maximises their value to society and ensures their sustainable provision.

Read the brief, the full report and the article to learn more about these recommendations and European insights.

Visit the project website to learn more about SINCERE.

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Spurring INnovations for forest eCosystem sERvices in Europe (SINCERE), a project coordinated by the European Forest Institute, advances innovative mechanisms, including novel policies and business models, which support the provision of Forest Ecosystem Services across Europe and beyond. Innovations developed through SINCERE explore new means to enhance such services in ways that benefit forest owners as well as serving broad societal needs.