Save the date: Payments for Ecosystem Services conference and workshop in Uganda

News, 22 February 2015
How can we use financial incentives for the protection of natural resources in a fair way? Two events in Uganda in March will look at the key issues.

Kenya’s Maasai pastoral herders are being paid for conserving their wildlife-rich lands. These payments for ecosystem services are giving the herders a predictable source of income. (Photo: Bedelian/ILRI, Creative Commons via Flickr)

Join us in Uganda from 25-26 March 2015 for a conference and a technical workshop that will explore how to make mechanisms which promote the protection of natural resources such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) – more equitable.   

Both events will focus on sharing workable solutions from ongoing projects, and delegates are encouraged to bring and share lessons on:

  • Financing PES
  • Bridging technical gaps, and
  • Designing an inclusive agenda that reduces poverty.

Supported by the Ecosytem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) project, the conference will bring together people who research, implement or fund PES schemes in developing countries, with an emphasis on East Africa.

Which event should I attend?

The conference is open to all and to anyone interested in PES and carbon in the smallholder context. The training workshop is a smaller event and is aimed at a more technical audience. More details are below:

Conference: Improving livelihoods and restoring ecosystems through carbon offsetting
Date: 25 March 2015, 3-6pm (venue to be confirmed)
Location: Kampala, Uganda

Focusing on PES in the smallholder context, participants at this event will include high-ranking officials from Uganda as well as international PES practitioners. Chris Stephenson, director of the Plan Vivo Foundation, will discuss the Plan Vivo Standard, an international standard that uses a PES approach for community-based projects. He will review standard's pioneering role in reaching out to small farmers and communities in developing countries.

Project developers from Mexico, Uganda and Nicaragua will share lessons on the pitfalls and recovery strategies of utilising carbon offsets to co-fund the balance of sustainable agroforestry, and researchers will discuss the viability of carbon offsets in the context of biodiversity and watershed services.

An informal exhibition of images will showcase experiences from several other countries, and after the event there will be an opportunity for networking and refreshments.

Training workshop:  Approachable science to reduce transaction costs
Date: 26 March 2015, 9am-5pm (venue to be confirmed)
Location: Entebbe, Uganda
Details: This will be a small workshop for approximately 25 participants. It will look at existing technical approaches, costs and the legitimacy of monitoring strategies for smallholder and community carbon schemes. Confirmed presenters include Dr Casey Ryan from the University of Edinburgh, Dr Kahlil Baker from Taking Root in Nicaragua and Pauline Nantongo from the Ecotrust Foundation in Uganda.

More information about Payments for Ecosystem Services

PES are payments to farmers or landowners who have agreed to take certain actions to manage their land or watersheds to provide an ecological service. They are increasingly used in schemes that link farmers improving their land management practices for their own benefit to others who also benefit from these actions.

Through careful design, tangible benefits can be achieved for both farmers and other parties involved. Examples include water utilities that benefit from cleaner water through improved catchment management in Bolivia; private companies in Sweden offsetting carbon emissions from reforestation projects in Nicaragua, Mexico and Uganda; international organisations supporting biodiversity corridors such as the Uganda Chimpanzee Corridor; government-led initiatives that promote sustainable forest use and conservation, as in Costa Rica, and UN-led efforts to compensate nations that avoid deforestation in order to prevent carbon from entering the atmosphere.

Applying these mechanisms as viable solutions in the smallholder and community context is not easy. Aggregation and dis-economies of scale, gaps in local capacities, complex land tenure and application processes coupled with relatively small payoffs (like low carbon offset prices) are serious deterrents, but they can be overcome.


Brian Barban (, senior coordinator, Sustainable Markets Group

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