in: Environmental Politics 24 (3), 481-500
The alleged capacity of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) to reach conservation policy goals, while reducing poverty in a cost-effective manner, makes it an extremely attractive development instrument for policymakers and international funding agencies. This article reconstructs the process of envisioning and building the National PES Strategy in Colombia. It reveals how this conservation policy has resulted from the mobilisation of the transnational/national PES epistemic community and its globally expanding discourse. The influential PES network generates internally defined standards of success that proceed without reference to empirical evidence as to the impacts of the implemented policies. PES adoption is influenced by regulatory instruments’ unsatisfactory outcomes, the ways in which market-environmentalist models induce profound indifference towards on-the-ground policy impacts, the discursive power and alignment properties of the PES policy epistemic community, and financial and political pressures by international banks and environmental NGOs.