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Written by: Gert Van Hecken, Pierre Merlet, Mara Lindtner, Johan Bastiaensen
Writing date: December 2016
Organizations: Universidad Centroamericana UCA de Nicaragua (UCA), Association pour contribuer à l’Amélioration de la Gouvernance de la Terre, de l’Eau et des Ressources naturelles (AGTER), University of Antwerp
In Journal : Ecological Economics (2017)
Van Hecken, G., et al., Can Financial Incentives Change Farmers’ Motivations? An Agrarian System Approach to Development Pathways at the Nicaraguan Agricu…, Ecol. Econ. (2017),
This article offers a conceptual-methodological approach to assess how new institutional frameworks, such as
PES (Payments for Ecosystem Services), interact with motivations for land use change at the individual and collective level. Increasing empirical evidence suggests that the effects of payments on inducing long-term behavioural change can vary substantially, depending on how they are integrated in territorial dynamics. We show how individual motivation is the result of collective societal pathways that generate particular opportunities and constraints, as well as guiding ideas and habits that ‘work’ within these pathways.
Through an illustrative case study at the agricultural frontier in Nicaragua,we show how an ‘agrarian system’ approach offers a more nuanced understanding of the dynamic interactions on the ground, and allows us to better connect farmers’ individual motivations to collective development pathways in that territory. Our case study also demonstrates how a local PES intervention is unlikely to lastingly alter the production system logic of farmers, or stimulate longterm ‘pro-environmental’ behaviour, unless accompanied by other types of policies.
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