Establishing Global Science Standards for Payments for Ecosystem Services

The Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability and the Wildlife Conservation Society are currently collaborating on generating the first science standards for payments for ecosystem service projects. A series of  workshops that brings together scientists, practitioners, policy-makers and business partners is the first phase of a broad, interdisciplinary effort to develop the first global, science-based standards for such projects. Future efforts will develop a web-based platform to create an open access tool to aid decision makers in the design and development of these projects worldwide.

The motivation for these workshops stems from the rapid expansion of the use of payments for ecosystem services as a major instrument for conservation and environmental programs. This expansion has led to a rich diversity of programs, some of which are built upon excellent scientific foundations and some of which are less well designed. Given this increasing importance of payments for ecosystem services, and the different designs that have emerged, it seems a global standard for establishing payment for ecosystem  services schemes could significantly aid project developers and help ensure that such programs deliver upon their intended ecological, social and economic goals.