World experts on payments for ecosystem services gather on the Danube
“The workshop was a great opportunity to exchange experience from the Danube river basin with experts from other river basins around the world", said Maya Todorova of WWF, Project Manager of the Danube PES project. "The Danube PES team, as well as other participants could freely learn from each other, especially about the process of developing economic instruments for nature conservation, including PES, and their political and socio-economic dimensions for national and international economies”.
“Participants in the workshop shared with us that one thing that became clear was that in all cases we need to have a clear definition of payments for ecosystem services and the different players – buyers and sellers. But what we also learned from them is that it is as important to involve the local community and stakeholders from the very beginning of the PES development. Participants in the workshop felt that at the end of the day, it is local communities who should benefit from PES schemes”, Todorova said.
During the workshop it became apparent that one of the big issues for developing PES schemes at the moment is how the management of a given territory can value its ecosystem services since there is still no market price for these.
“Participants felt that in most cases the markets highly undervalue ecosystem services, but it is our task to make sure that these services can be recognized as key to the regional strategic planning, protected areas and river basin management”, Todorova said.
Another issue was how to incorporate the assessment of ecosystem services in the cost benefit analysis of big investment projects, especially the ones getting public funding.
During the three-day workshop, the speakers emphasized that PES schemes have to take care of the entire spectrum of ecosystem services as they are all linked – for example water and forests. They also expressed their wish to think of a project for PES that would encompass the entire Danube.
Last but not least, participants pointed out the importance to communicate PES in an easy to understand language to all stakeholders, especially land users, who are potential providers of ecosystem services.
Among the speakers were Julio Tresierra from WWF Netherlands, Chillasse Lahcen from Institute Marocaine de l'Information Technique et Scientifique, Andre Costa Nahur from WWF Brazil, Csaba Vaszkó from WWF Hungary and Christian Mesmer from University of Giessen in Germany .
Participants in the workshop visited several of the Danube PES project pilot sites and heard about the PES schemes that are being developed there. The workshop took place from 1-4 April 2012 and was part of the project “Promoting Payments for Ecosystem Services & Related Sustainable Financing Schemes in the Danube Basin”.