Mariel Aguilar-Støen: Exploring participation in new forms of environmental governance: a case study of payments for environmental services in Nicaragua

Published in Environment, Development and Sustainability


This article discusses a “payments for ecosystem services” project in Nicaragua involving different public and private actors. The main contribution of this paper to the literature is that this study shows how the participation of the poor and marginalized in environmental governance projects, particularly in payments for environmental services (PES) projects, is shaped by asymmetrical and preexisting power relations that do not simply disappear with the inception of a project. This study also contributes to better understand and to nuance the motives of different actors to engage in PES projects, and my analysis confirms that a sole focus on economic incentives is too narrow and insufficient explanation for actors’ involvement in the project. The project constitutes a hybrid arena where different ideas meet. One of the outcomes of such hybridity is that the expansion of the activities of corporate actors remains unquestioned and their perspectives are favoured, while at the same time claiming to promote the conservation of natural resources. The study reveals the engagement of international development agencies in influencing the relations between private and public actors. Powerful actors are able to draw the borders of what is possible to discuss and negotiate in “invited” spaces for participation like this PES project.


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Published Oct. 22, 2014 9:35 AM - Last modified Oct. 22, 2014 9:35 AM