Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas: A ‘Cookbook’ for Emerging IES Practitioners in the Region

A third party takes an impartial role in supporting the negotiations. This party may also become an independent monitor of the performance of IES systems. Representatives from local government and research or academic institutions may be best placed to carry out such monitoring, and resolve conflicts should they arise. During negotiations, it is important to discuss and agree on the roles and responsibilities of both producers and consumers of identified ecosystem service(s). Consumers of ecosystem services may be unwilling to pay if upstream communities or producers are not, or are insufficiently, providing the ecosystem services upon which parties agreed. Strong negotiation skills may be needed to bring producers and consumers to a point of agreement. Beyond negotiation between these two groups, negotiation within them may also be necessary, for example in establishing and coming to agreement on benefit-sharing mechanisms. Experiences in the Himalayas indicate that poorly planned benefit- sharing mechanisms can at times create conflict relating to perceptions of equity, rights, inclusiveness and fairness. This is a particular risk when ecosystem services are being managed as common property, or if there is perception of payments and funds in the past having been managed unfairly/inefficiently. Benefit-sharing plans must therefore pay particular attention to the administrating institution (who will

consumers pay?), the recipients (who will be paid and what specific actions qualify them for payment?), safeguards in place to monitor impact and verification of participation over time, the specific individuals and entities that handle the revenue and accounting (and how transparent this is), and also how grievances or feedback can be addressed, and how long improvement cycles should be. Linking with local government plans/conservation/ district plans is another important consideration of the negotiation step. Local government and line agencies play a crucial role in successful IES systems, as many ecosystem services in the Himalayas are considered as common property. In most cases, local government also has its own operational plans, frequently with a year (short) and five-year (medium) terms. The IES system needs to be in line with these plans, which also support long-term management of ecosystems and the services they generate. It is also important in the negotiation phase to examine local plans to see if there are any similar provisions to incentivize producers of the identified ecosystem services. In some cases, local government could be the buyer of ecosystem services (such as municipal water supply), in which case these provisions would need to be streamlined within local government plans. On the other hand, it could be that the IES system under consideration is already redundant.











Step 7: Negotiating • Initiate negotiations between producers, consumers and intermediaries • Establish willingness to pay/willingness to accept • Specify concrete and well-defined management actions and quantified goals for the ecosystem service • Identify and resolve technical, land-right and beneficiary issues • Consider pro-poor financing and benefit sharing • Control for power dynamics when needed • Establish verification and reporting requirements, as well as consequences for unfulfilled agreements


Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas

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