Payments for environmental services in Ecuador: protecting nature or promoting a privatization model of governance?, the debate prompted by question 8 of the consultation promoted by the government | ecology | Magazine

Ecuador’s so-called carbon market is still under construction. This figure is considered by international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations to be an important part of climate change mitigation. To increase this figure in the country, the national government is seeking to amend Article 74 of the Constitution so that so-called payments for environmental services (PSAs) are allowed through a question, a list of eight, which is seeking to be approved in a consultation that drive

According to the government, the PES will allow the issuance of financial incentives and rewards for the protection, maintenance, use and exploitation of environmental services.

The Constitution does not provide for compensation for those who support the generation of these services. (…) Ambitious objectives regarding environmental protection and climate change cannot be deprived of their achievement, leaving aside the use of the instrument represented by the markets which in turn can be argued to be one of the foundations , which enabled the inclusion of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and dictated recent global environmental policies”, is stated in the appendix to the question.

Ecuador’s carbon market, which is still under construction, is sparking debate across sectors

These services are the economic, social and environmental benefits that people derive from the proper functioning of ecosystems and are classified as providing services; regulation; supports; and cultural services. Among the most important are the provision of fresh water, nutritious food security, carbon sequestration, climate regulation, pollination and disease and vector control.

The Executive also seeks to amend Article 248 of the Regulations of the Organic Environment Code, which states that in no case can compensation fees be created for an environmental service that is performed without human action or inaction.

“The proposed amendment will strengthen the role of the state as administrator of biodiversity and natural resources, responsible for ensuring their protection and regeneration, thereby respecting the rights of nature established in the Constitution and in turn respecting the spirit of this and taking into account the needs of present and future generations for an adequate environment for the preservation of life both as a species and as a whole,” affirms the government.

Voices from civil society, however, assure that this amendment could lead to a privatization model of environmental management that ends with the usufruct of the land being taken away.

For PES, ecosystem services are quantified, setting aside other forms of assessment and prioritizing some services over others. Obviously, those that generate more profitability are prioritizedGabriela Borja, a sociologist at Central University, points out.

The government confirms that the PES will help protect Ecuador’s natural ecosystems. Photo: Archive Photo: Juan de Dios Morales

He adds that in order to establish a PES, it is necessary to demarcate the areas that must be preserved, and the people who live in this place cannot carry out activities that affect ecosystem services. Before we approve or disapprove of this figure, according to Borja, it is necessary to analyze who these ecosystem services affect and who they benefit from.

In many cases, it is the small farmers who live in high places, such as marshes, who have to stop their agricultural or grazing activities because they affect water production. This affects not only their economy but also their way of life and culture.“, He says.

This shows that people who cannot use their land are forced to look for other planting spaces or migrate to cities, especially when PES is not given in money but through materials, equipment or training that are related to the process .

In many places around the world where PES are emerging, what is happening is that strategic sites for the production of ecosystem services are being bought by large landowners, conservation companies, or companies that use an ecosystem service such as water. and this they have to keep this object in order to guarantee their production. It also happens that the organizations or companies that carry out PES are the ones who decide what villagers do or don’t do in these spaces. This is what I mean by the fact that processes of privatization of management can be generatedBorja points out.

Due to the complexities involved in the PSA, it is acknowledged by civil society that it is not ideal for this figure to be approved or not through consultation. Photo: Archive

Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, Gustavo Manrique, points out that PES are compensation mechanisms that encourage economic or other investments so that natural and legal persons, public and private, communities, peoples and nationalities can carry out initiatives ( conservation, restoration, etc.) that allow nature to continue to perform its functions by providing ecological services.

Through these compensation mechanisms, it is possible to contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity, water capture and filtration, climate change mitigation, oxygen generation and assimilation of various pollutants, soil retention, wildlife refuge, etc. , others“, He says.

The official adds that Ecuador already has experience with compensatory mechanisms, such as economic incentives for conservation such as the Socio Bosque program: “Other financial mechanisms such as those created for the Hermandad Marine Reserve are also other opportunities that the country can take advantage of within of the ecological transition.

Borja points out that due to the complexity involved in establishing a PES, it is not the best thing to ask this question in a consultation, as it is necessary to analyze in depth who makes the payments, what ecosystem services they represent, how they will be calculated from an economic point of view the value of these services. (YO)

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