Despite the increasing scholarly attention that Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are receiving, little is yet known about the process of price setting. This is key knowledge that relates directly to the economic efficiency of an instrument that is spreading widely worldwide. Through a meta-analysis of payments for forest watershed services in Latin America, this study finds that there exists a very substantial difference between the price that buyers pay and that sellers receive for ecosystem services and that this difference is not due to transaction costs. Instead, it reveals a substantial subsidising component. Our results would suggest that this discrepancy in prices might be due to the ‘start-up’ effect and that as programmes mature, this effect may attenuate. However, the entry of new buyers does not make over for the subsidization of schemes and would require the implementation of specific mechanisms to adjust prices. According to our results, one of such possible mechanisms would be to increase participation on price setting processes, allowing for more price negotiation between parties rather than the predominant top-down approach.
Martin-Ortega, J., Dekker, T., Ojea, E., & Lorenzo-Arribas, A. (2019). Dissecting price setting efficiency in Payments for Ecosystem Services: A meta-analysis of payments for watershed services in Latin America. Ecosystem Services, 38, 100961.