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Blackman A.,Resources for the Future | Blackman A.,Environment for Development Center for Central America
Forest Policy and Economics | Year: 2013

Rigorous, objective evaluation of forest conservation policies in developing countries is needed to ensure that the limited financial, human, and political resources devoted to these policies are put to good use. Yet such evaluations remain uncommon. Recent advances in conservation best practices, the widening availability of high-resolution remotely sensed forest-cover data, and the dissemination of geographic information system capacity have created significant opportunities to reverse this trend. This paper provides a nontechnical introduction and practical guide to a relatively low cost method that relies on remote sensing data to support ex post analysis of forest conservation policies. It describes the defining features of this approach, explains the broad empirical challenges to using it and the main strategies for meeting these challenges, catalogs the literature, discusses the requisite data, provides some practical guidance on modeling choices, and describes in detail two recent studies. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Blackman A.,Resources for the Future | Blackman A.,Environment for Development Center for Central America | Rivera J.,Environment for Development Center for Central America | Rivera J.,George Washington University
Conservation Biology | Year: 2011

Initiatives certifying that producers of goods and services adhere to defined environmental and social-welfare production standards are increasingly popular. According to proponents, these initiatives create financial incentives for producers to improve their environmental, social, and economic performance. We reviewed the evidence on whether these initiatives have such benefits. We identified peer-reviewed, ex post, producer-level studies in economic sectors in which certification is particularly prevalent (bananas, coffee, fish products, forest products, and tourism operations), classified these studies on the basis of whether their design and methods likely generated credible results, summarized findings from the studies with credible results, and considered how these findings might guide future research. We found 46 relevant studies, most of which focused on coffee and forest products and examined fair-trade and Forest Stewardship Council certification. The methods used in 11 studies likely generated credible results. Of these 11 studies, nine examined the economic effects and two the environmental effects of certification. The results of four of the 11 studies, all of which examined economic effects, showed that certification has producer-level benefits. Hence, the evidence to support the hypothesis that certification benefits the environment or producers is limited. More evidence could be generated by incorporating rigorous, independent evaluation into the design and implementation of projects promoting certification. ©2011 Society for Conservation Biology.

Blackman A.,Resources for the Future | Blackman A.,Environment for Development Center for Central America | Osakwe R.,Environment for Development Center for Central America | Alpizar F.,Environment for Development Center for Central America
Energy Policy | Year: 2010

Although fuel taxes are a practical means of curbing vehicular air pollution, congestion, and accidents in developing countries-all of which are typically major problems-they are often opposed on distributional grounds. Yet few studies have investigated fuel tax incidence in a developing country context. We use household survey data and income-outcome coefficients to analyze fuel tax incidence in Costa Rica. We find that the effect of a 10% fuel price hike through direct spending on gasoline would be progressive, its effect through spending on diesel-both directly and via bus transportation-would be regressive (mainly because poorer households rely heavily on buses), and its effect through spending on goods other than fuel and bus transportation would be relatively small, albeit regressive. Finally, we find that the overall effect of a 10% fuel price hike through all types of direct and indirect spending would be neutral and the magnitude of this combined effect would be modest. We conclude that distributional concerns need not rule out using fuel taxes to address pressing public health and safety problems, particularly if gasoline and diesel taxes can be differentiated. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Blackman A.,Resources for the Future | Blackman A.,Environment for Development Center for Central America | Uribe E.,CNR Institute of Applied Physics Nello Carrara | van Hoof B.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Lyon T.P.,University of Michigan
Policy Sciences | Year: 2013

Voluntary agreements (VAs) negotiated between environmental regulators and polluters are increasingly popular in developing countries. According to proponents, they can sidestep weak institutions and other pervasive barriers to conventional mandatory regulation in such countries. Yet little is known about the drivers of their use and their effectiveness in poor countries. The considerable literature on voluntary initiatives in industrialized countries, where both VAs and socioeconomic conditions differ, may not apply. Using a conceptual framework drawn from the economics literature, we examine four prominent VAs in Colombia, a global leader in the use of this policy. We find that the main motive for using VAs has been to build capacity needed for broader environmental regulatory reform and that partly as a result, VAs' additional effect on environmental performance has been limited. These findings contrast with those from industrialized country studies, which typically conclude VAs are used as a low-cost substitute for impending mandatory regulation and have few benefits because of weak regulatory pressure. Our findings suggest that in developing countries, VAs may be best suited to capacity building, not environmental management per se. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Blackman A.,Resources for the Future | Blackman A.,Environment for Development Center for Central America | Woodward R.T.,Environment for Development Center for Central America | Woodward R.T.,Texas A&M University
Ecological Economics | Year: 2010

National government-funded payments for environmental services (PES) programs often lack sustainable financing and fail to target payments to providers of important environmental services. In principle, these problems can be mitigated by supplementing government financing with contributions from leading environmental service users. We use original survey data and official statistics to analyze user financing in Costa Rica's renowned national PES program, focusing on the amounts and sources of user financing, the drivers of contributions, and contributors' perceptions of the PES program. We find that user financing has supported less than 3% of the acres enrolled in the program and that hydroelectric plants are the largest private sector contributors. Large hydroelectric plants tend to contribute while small ones do not. The weight of evidence suggests that in addition to ensuring the provision of forest environmental services, hydroelectric plants' motives for contributing to the PES program include improving relations with local communities and government regulators-common drivers of participation in all manner of voluntary environmental programs. These findings raise questions about the potential of user financing to improve the efficiency and financial sustainability of national PES programs. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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