As a lock to a key? Why science is more than just an instrument to pay for nature’s services

Kolinjivadi, Vijay / Gert Van Hecken / Jean Carlo Rodríguez de Francisco / Jérôme Pelenc / Nicolás Kosoy
External Publications (2017)

published on Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (online first)


Scholars have argued that the success of conservation instruments depends on improved scientific knowledge in linking ecosystem functioning with value-reflecting prices to optimize the production and delivery of ecosystem services (ES). However, these scholars assume that greater sophistication of scientific inquiry rests on ES thinking, without recognizing that the ES framework represents one social rationality in articulating human–nature relationships. Here, we discuss why a singular focus on ‘getting the science right’ for environmental policy oversimplifies the many socio-political consequences underlying the use of ES as an ‘objective’ science. We argue that the process of doing science through reflection on social diversity and power dimensions better reveals the extent to which PES interventions are perceived, debated, negotiated and strategically adapted.

About the author

Rodríguez de Francisco

Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Banerjee, Aparajita

Environmental and Resource Sociology, Public Policy 

Dombrowsky, Ines


Hein, Jonas


Hernandez, Ariel


Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Klingebiel, Stephan

Political Science 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Röthel, Tim


Schoderer, Mirja

Environmental Research 

Schüpf, Dennis


Strupat, Christoph