Defining PES: a long expected revisit

The most influential article written on PES has got a long awaited follow up by its author. Sven Wunder’s 2005 “Payments for environmental services: some nuts and bolts” has proposed a definition of PES that has since then been embraced and contested throughout the PES academic community. In the last 10 years, a number of works have tried to seek their own definition of PES, several times taking Wunder’s definition as a starting point for the discussion.

In the new article, before proposing a new definition, Wunder provides a very interesting discussion on the usefulness of definitions and on what one should want from a definition of PES. Especially interesting are his points about how a definition should be a tool for explaining phenomena, instead of a description of the issue in hand, and why a PES definition should single out PES in relation to other types of policies.

The new definition replaces “buyers” for “service users” dissipating an “an inadequate market association”, which has brought some conceptual confusion and practical distrust of PES in many circles. It also replaces “ES provision (or land use proxy)” for “Agreed rules of natural resource management” and scrapes the idea of a “well defined ES” due to technical and cost challenges of ‘well-defining’ an ES. Finally, it adds the idea of “offsite services”, which “deliberately links PES to the […] subset of environmental externalities, which the resource-use rules aim to address”.

The very worth reading can be found at