An Introduction to the Conceptual Basis of RUPES: Rewarding upland poor for the environmental services they provide


M. Van Noordwijk; F. Chandler; T.P. Tomich

Type of Document:
Research Report


ICRAF Southeast Asia

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Bogor, Indonesia


Summary: Payments for environmental services are normally discussed in terms of ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’ – as if there are only two sides of a coin. Taking this analogy, we may see the ‘brokers’ (those that act as a third party between the buyers and the sellers) as the third side of the coin. However, the chance that a coin will land on this side and reach a stable equilibrium is small – it normally falls to either of the two other sides.

What is presented are twenty ‘aspects’ of Rewarding the Upland Poor in Asia for Environmental Services They Provide (RUPES), suggesting that rewarding upland poor for environmental services ES is a well-polished diamond, rather than a coin. All these aspects can co-exist and all reveal insights into what is at the core, yet none of them are the full and only truth.

Overall it is hoped that this collection of aspects can stimulate the wider intellectual debate and practical exploration and testing that we need to achieve the double Goals of poverty alleviation and environmental protection that the world community has set itself as Millennium Development Goals.

Table of Contents:

Prologue Three questions as a start RUPES in a nutshell Section 1: An environmental science perspective 1. ‘Environmental Service’ issues follow the ‘issue cycle’ 2. Two classification systems for ‘Environmental Services’ 3. Degradation-rehabilitation histories differ between the various ‘environmental services’

4. Optimal choice among segregate and integrate options depends on trade-offs 5. Tragedy of commons re-visited: regulations, property rights, rewards & collective action

Section 2: An economics perspective

6. National economic policy needs to be based on ‘genuine savings’: growth data need to be corrected for changes in environmental services and natural capital

7. Private land use decisions do not fully consider the environmental costs to others: there are externalities that need to be internalized

8. Emerging markets for ES can in principle correct ‘market failure’ by reducing externalities

9. Intergenerational equity and concerns about future environmental services 10. Exchange rates among currencies of the ‘Five Capitals’ are variable

Section 3: A social justice perspective:

11. Environmental services are part of basic human rights and millennium development Goals (MDGs) 12. Dimensions of poverty vary along the intensification landscape, co-varying with ES impacts 13. Rewards for ES enhancing labour are more likely to be ‘pro-poor’ than rewards for land-based actual ES levels

Section 4: An INRManagement perspective:

14. Natural resource management can be understood at five levels 15. Stop PUPES before RUPES 16. Starting with ‘easy wins’ rather than ‘most urgent issues’

Section 5: A public policy perspective:

17. Public policy stages 18. Baselines, Leakage, Additionality and Permanence are scale issues 19. Transaction costs often are prohibitively high, but can be reduced by ‘honest brokers’ and ‘economies of scale’

20. Rewards for ES require trust but also can be a step forward towards trust Summary and Further Thoughts References

Additional Bibliographic Information

ICRAF Working paper

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