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Economic Tools and Payment for Ecosystem Services for the Cali River Watershed


Considered as one of the countries with the most impressive mega diversity, Colombia has made many efforts to develop conservation policies and environmental regu­lations, declare protected areas and implement different processes of land use planning. Nonetheless, the country still faces the deterioration of natural resources and the loss of biodiversity.

To address this decline, Colombia relies on the country’s en­vironmental legal framework that has been in place since the seventies as well as more recent policies, but despite the advances, the development and regulation of instru­ments regarding the compensation and/or payment for ecosystem services (PES) in the Colombia still lags in comparison to other Latin American countries

Giving this context, the experiences that currently exist in Colombia on payments for environmental services (PSE) are based on pilot projects in the early stages of design or execution. These pilot initiatives can provide valuable lessons learned for the implementation of a national PES strategy, which was developed in 2007.

This course is divided into two sections that the same participants will take at different times. The objective of the first course, which took place March 3-9, 2013, is to strengthen PES initiatives that are already underway in Colom­bia, using the Cali River Watershed as an example. This case study was selected for the course because it allows us to illustrate the benefits ecosystems provide in the provision of water quality and quantity and hydroelectric power generation for part of the city of Cali. The second course, which will take place during the last quarter of 2013, will introduce participants to the ecological principles for the restoration of ecosystem services.


Module 1. Goods and ecosystem services concepts, current state, impacts and threads

  • Biodiversity as the base of ecosystem services 
  • Water environmental services
  • An introduction to ecosystem services
  • Field trip #1: Visit to the Cristo Rey lookout point to view the city, to the Cali Aqueduct: San Antonio Plant and to the Pacific Energy Company EPSA: Cali river Plant

Module 2. Theory bases of economy

  • An introduction to the economy of conservation
  • Market failures

Module 3. Introduction to ecological restoration

  • Introduction to the ecology of restoration
  • Field trip #2: Visit to La Cajita and to Los Carriquies Reserve, plus a practice with bio-indicators of water quality

Module 4. Introduction to the legal frame of economic instruments and payment/compensation for environmental services

  • Economic instruments of environmental policy
  • Legal frame of Payment for Environmental Services (PES)

Module 5. Economic value of environmental services

  • Environmental economic value
  • Economic value
  • Introduction to Payment for Environmental Services (PES)
  • Case Study #1: PES initiative in the Chaina microwatershed

Module 6. Compensation/payment for environmental services mechanisms

  • Case Study #2: Travel cost method
  • Payment for Environmental Services: Learning from practice
  • Generating inputs for decision makers