Markets for Ecosystem Services: A Potential Tool for Multilateral Environmental Agreements

By Anantha K. Duraiappah on March 8, 2007
Markets for ecosystem services (MES) and market-based instruments, though mainly intended to protect the environment, can also help alleviate poverty rather than exacerbate it when designed to be pro-poor. Links between the objectives of various multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the Millennium Development Goals, for example, indicate considerable scope for the development of pro-poor markets for ecosystem services by MEA regimes. Indeed, when one considers the interdependency of ecosystem services which fall under the mandate of different MEAs, then opportunities for pro-poor MES increase substantially when MEA resources are combined. Furthermore, MEAs can provide critical institutional frameworks to guide national-level government implementation efforts.This paper lays out the argument for using MEAs to develop pro-poor markets for ecosystem services and shows how participation by the the public sector is critical for their success. Together, MEAs and governments can provide the institutional structure for these markets to work efficiently as well as equitably.

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IISD, 2007