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AfDB acts as international knowledge broker for key environmental mechanism: Payment for Environmental Services


The African Development Bank (AfDB) organized an international workshop on November 5 and 6 in Tunis focused on promoting the use of the Payment for Environmental Services (PES) mechanism. The two-day event, titled “Achieving sustainable management of natural resources in Africa using Payment for Environmental Services” was jointly sponsored by the Bank’s Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department (OSAN), The Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department (ONEC) and the Quality Assurance and Results Department (ORQR). The workshop brought together 70 experts from governments across the continent, civil society organizations, development organizations and the research community.

PES is a flexible mechanism in which a well-defined environmental service is bought by a buyer from at least one environmental service provider in a voluntary transaction. PES is based on the use of the market forces of supply and demand to achieve private transactions between the providers and consumers of environmental services. In turn, this provides a private financial incentive for the sustainable management of ecosystems.

Key African examples of PES implementation were presented during the workshop, both from within the AfDB and beyond. From within the Bank there were examples given from the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF), which currently has 14 projects with a PES component and the Forest Investment Program (FIP) of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), which has three projects.

Beyond the AfDB, the African Wildlife Foundation presented a case study of the Amboseli National Park, where a PES mechanism has been in place since 2008 and has resulted in the securing of 21,000 acres of land for wildlife, employment creation, direct payments to land owners and improved wildlife governance. The World Agroforestry Centre presented a case study on the Naivasha and Sasumua watershed areas in Kenya, which presented a practical and demonstrable model for the application of the PES mechanism. A further case study presented on behalf of the Niger River Basin Authority presented nine potential operation models for the PES mechanism and the potential added value of using the PES mechanism.

To provide a more global perspective, the World Wildlife Fund presented the example of the Upper Putamayo Basin in Colombia where lessons learned – regarding ecosystem mapping, identifying areas of greatest benefit and understanding how outside forces, such as climate change and population growth, can impact the ecosystem and biodiversity – were shared and their applicability to the African context discussed.

Responding to the high-level participation – institutional directors, senior government representatives and senior members of civil society organizations – one presentation in particular, delivered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, addressed the institutional arrangements that help make PES successful. These include: involvement of all relevant participants, a well-defined project area, predetermined sources of funding, a clear pricing and payment structure and a well-developed monitoring and evaluation system.   

Speaking about the PES mechanism, workshop participant Ambassador Julius Kandie, Senior Director of Administration in the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Kenya, said that “PES is a great tool… it allows for the direct involvement of the community and consumers in conservation measures, so, indeed, it promotes a win-win situation while achieving a goal of conserving and sustainably using the environment for our developmental activities.”

The workshop served as a springboard to future discussions that will seek to take key suggestions made during the workshop – relating to mapping, financing and implementation – and translate them into actionable recommendations to the AfDB for the effective use of the PES mechanism in Africa.

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