Speaker: Dr Caroline Upton, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Leicester

Despite well-founded ethical, conceptual and practical concerns over the contemporary proliferation of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes around the globe, critical geographers have recently begun to challenge this ‘milieu of apprehension’ around (P)ES (Jackson and Palmer, 2014). In particular, there is a growing call for more nuanced analyses and understandings of ways in which the ES paradigm and its enactment through PES may, in particular circumstances, encompass and make legible diverse ways of being in/ knowing nature, indigenous ontologies, gift economies, and ‘affective socio-ecological worlds’ (ibid; Kallis et al., 2013; Singh, 2015).

The case study examined herein engages with these more hopeful geographies, through its analysis of a recently implemented scheme under the Plan Vivo standard in Mongolia. Informed by Kallis et al’s (2013) ‘radical pragmatism’ the author worked with herder groups across Mongolia from 2012-2015 to develop a locally grounded and relevant manifestation of PES, with specific attention to incorporation of diverse socio-ecological relations, beliefs and values. The unfolding of these schemes is the focus of ongoing work, which pays particular attention to diverse ontologies, practices and relations of care, and the ways in which they may be valorised, empowered, transformed or undermined through PES. As argued in the paper, the new Plan Vivo standard, as applied here, provides an important example of an ‘actually existing’ PES scheme, which blurs the lines between different established models, not least through promotion of new governance relationships, which emphasise the agency of local actors. These issues are examined both in relation to the participatory development of the PES scheme and the ways in which it is continuing to unfold at sites across Mongolia.

Recorded: Thursday 8 February 2018 (16:30-18:00)

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