Payment for Ecosystem Services versus ecological reparations: The ‘Green Economy’, litigation and a redistributive eco-debt grant

Authors Khadija Sharife, Patrick Bond

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Post-graduate law student, investigative journalist, Africa Fellow at the World Policy Institute, and commissioning editor at the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR); coordinator of the South African branch of the Environmental Justice Organisations, Trade and Liabilities (EJOLT) initiative, University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society (CCS); School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society (CCS)
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 29 Issue 1, 2013, p. 144 – 169


Since the December 2011 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 17 in Durban and the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, attention has turned to whether the ‘Green Economy’, the concept of ‘natural capital’ and ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ together facilitate the management of new environmentally-financialised markets whose aim is to price nature and its pollution, so as to achieve maximally efficient exploitation of resources (an example of which is carbon trading). Alternatively, if there are flaws in such markets, should society instead move towards retributive payments for ‘ecological debt’ based on both ‘loss and damage’ accounting (introduced at the UNFCCC COP18 in Doha) and environmental justice, in order that the valuing of nature is limited to fines for damages and then prohibitions on further pollution. These two countervailing philosophies play out in high-profile projects and pilot social-policy schemes in southern Africa, in ways that will teach the world foundational concepts surrounding ecological reparations.