AN2: Assessing and anticipating the consequences of introducing benefit sharing mechanisms

Published on 6 December 2011

Research Areas


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Start Date: 1 January 2010 | End Date: 30 November 2013


The benefits provided by hydrological ecosystem services (HES) have been increasingly recognized over the last decade. Many attempts have been made to explicitly include this recognition in markets, using schemes known as payments for HES (PHES). Most of the earliest PHES initiatives were in Latin America. Hence, the region boasts the most evolved body of experience to draw from and continues to see the evolution of different forms of PHES. A recent  consideration is the equity of Ecosystem Services’s(ES) benefits distribution within the watershed between providers and beneficiaries. In cases where this is highly uneven, broader ‘benefits sharing mechanisms’ (BSMs) –than  “pure” PES schemes, could be more useful measures for avoiding water-related conflicts while maintaining HES provision.
In this sense, this project is about showing whether ecosystem services-oriented Benefit Sharing Mechanism (BSM) in watersheds can be effective and equitable. It seeks to quantify the consequences of BSM-driven changes in land and water management for livelihoods in upstream rural communities and for water supplies for downstream water consumers, and in equity conditions. It will develop methods to anticipate ex ante the likely consequences of introducing BSM, to inform the design of such BSM schemes regarding the magnitude, relative value of HES, required institutional and legal frameworks and the willingness of actors to contribute to such mechanisms, as well as monitoring and measuring these consequences ex post. Finally, it will introduce methods for adaptive management in BSM design and planning, so that new instances of BSM can benefit from lessons already learned – for example, so that BSM design is more likely to result in benefits to the upstream rural poor, and to the environment, as well as for downstream water consumers.


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