Payments for ecosystem services in relation to US and UK agri-environmental policy: disruptive neoliberal innovation or hybrid policy adaptation?
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- Potter, C.A. & Wolf, S.A. Agric Hum Values (2014) 31: 397. doi:10.1007/s10460-014-9518-2
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This paper draws on ideas about policy innovation and adaptation to assess the extent to which ‘payments for ecosystem services’ (PES) can be seen as a challenge to traditionally more bureaucratic, state-centered ways of paying for the provisioning of environmental goods from agricultural landscapes through agri environmental policy (AEP). Focussing on recent experience in the United States and the UK, the paper documents the extent to which PES is now an established term of reference in AEP research and debate in both countries and postulates that this may usher in a new discourse of environmental provisioning in agriculture. The PES landscape is, however, currently highly fragmented and largely experimental, with ‘PES-like’ approaches being piloted in the field through partnerships between state agencies and localized private and charitable interests. State-supported AEP programs remain substantially intact, and rather than any displacement of state action, there appears to be a more gradual insertion of PES approaches and metrics into standard AEP operating procedures. This institutional stickiness is partly due to the continuing difficulty of agreeing the metrics necessary for measuring outcomes but may also be due to the politically well defended nature of traditional AEP entitlements and associated policy networks. We conclude by suggesting a need for further research to better understand these specifically political constraints and sources of resistance to PES and the ambiguous consequences for institutions, policy networks, rural communities and environment.
KeywordsPayments for ecosystem services Agri-environmental policy Neoliberalization
Common Agricultural Policy
Conservation Reserve Program
Environmental Benefits Index
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Office of Environmental Markets
Payments for ecosystem services
United States Department of Agriculture
World Trade Organization