Muniz, R. & Cruz, M.J. (2015) Making nature valuable, not profitable: are payments for ecosystem services suitable for degrowth?Sustainability, 7, 10895-10921. DOI:10.3390/su70810895 (IF2015 1,343; Q3 Environmental Studies)
The growth economy imposes multiple crises on humanity and the natural world. To challenge this economic growth imperative, the degrowth movement emerges as a dissident response. Although within an economic growth perspective, payments for ecosystem services (PES) have also been proposed to attenuate the negative impacts of capitalism, as a redistributive mechanism that is claimed to deliver equitable conservation and sustainability. Degrowth has notably similar concerns, although it is inclined to argue against PES traditional ideologies and practices, which lead conservation to perceive nature within economic growth and market ideologies, diminishing the relationship between humans and nature. In spite of that, PES are becoming a strong trend in environmental governance. This paper attempts to examine whether PES are, and how they could be suitable for degrowth, through the lens of its main sources. In order to integrate PES and degrowth, it could require a PES reconceptualization. Although we assert that PES are not the most appropriate instrument for conservation, we argue that maybe PES could contribute to degrowth as a transition instrument toward fostering better practices. However, it is important to elucidate how they can be used and under which circumstances they could be appropriate.