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Central America

2011-11-09

Producer-level Benefits of Sustainability Certification

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.

2011-11-06

Should we tax or let firms trade emissions? An experimental analysis with policy implications for developing countries

In this paper we use laboratory experiments to test the theoretical predictions derived by Villegas-Palacio and Coria (2010) about the effects of the interaction between technology adoption and incomplete enforcement. They show that under Tradable Emissions Permits (TEPs), and in contrast to taxes, the fall in permit price produced by adoption of environmentally friendly technologies reduces the benefits of violating the environmental regulation at the margin and leads firms to improve their compliance behavior. Moreover, when TEPs are used, the regulator can speed up the diffusion of new technologies since the benefits from adopting the new technology increase with the enforcement stringency.

2011-10-25

The Quality of Life in Urban Neighborhoods in Costa Rica

This paper considers valuation of amenities in urban neighborhoods and satisfaction with those neighborhoods and life in general. First, rents are used to estimate the price of neighborhood amenities in San Jose, which explains 39% of the standardized variation of rents. Some districts rank very high in housing characteristics but poorly in neighborhood amenities, while others rank poorly in housing characteristics but high in neighborhood amenities, suggesting that indirect policy measures might reduce inequality in urban areas by improving neighborhood amenities. Second, the paper explores differences in the valuation of amenities by calculating prices in different urban areas. In more sparsely populated urban areas, distance to national parks becomes less important, but distance to primary roads becomes more important. Finally, housing and safety satisfaction represent the key components of life satisfaction.

2011-10-25

Measuring the Effectiveness of Protected Area Networks in Reducing Deforestation: A Rigorous Impact Evaluation Approach

Global efforts to reduce tropical deforestation rely heavily on the establishment of protected areas. Measuring the effectiveness of these areas is difficult because the amount of deforestation that would have occurred in the absence of legal protection cannot be directly observed. Conventional methods of evaluating the effectiveness of protected areas can be biased because protection is not randomly assigned and because protection can induce deforestation spillovers (displacement) to neighboring forests. We demonstrate that estimates of effectiveness can be substantially improved by controlling for biases along dimensions that are observable, measuring spatial spillovers, and testing the sensitivity of estimates to potential hidden biases.

2011-10-25

Park Location Affects Forest Protection: Land Characteristics Cause Differences in Park Impacts across Costa Rica

To support conservation planning, we ask whether a park's impact on deforestation rates varies with observable land characteristics that planners could use to prioritize sites. Using matching methods to address bias from non-random location, we find deforestation impacts vary greatly due to park lands' characteristics. Avoided deforestation is greater if parks are closer to the capital city, in sites closer to national roads, and on lower slopes. In allocating scarce conservation resources, policy makers may consider many factors such as the ecosystem services provided by a site and the costs of acquiring the site. Pfaff and Sanchez 2004 claim impact can rise with a focus upon threatened land, all else equal. We provide empirical support in the context of Costa Rica's renowned park system. This insight, alongside information on eco-services and land costs, should guide investments.

2011-10-24

Diseño y gestión adaptativa de un esquema de pago de servicios ecosistémicos en Copan Ruinas, Honduras

Este artículo presenta el desarrollo de una iniciativa de pagos por servicios ecosistémicos relacionados con la provisión de agua potable en la comunidad de Copán Ruinas, Honduras. La metodología para diseñar e implementar este programa se basa en un enfoque integral y de gestión adaptativa, compuesto por varios componentes: definición de objetivos y diagnóstico general, análisis de condiciones habilitadoras, diseño técnico del programa, implementación y evaluación.

2011-10-24

The Effect of Ambiguous Risk and Coordination on Farmer´s Adaptation to Climate Change-A Framed Field Experiment

The risk of losses of income and productive means due to adverse weather can differ significantly among farmers sharing a productive landscape, and is of course hard to estimate, or even “guesstimate” empirically. Moreover, the costs associated with investments in reduced vulnerability to climatic events are likely to exhibit economies of scope. We explore the implications of these characteristics on farmer's decisions to adapt to climate change using a framed field experiment applied to coffee farmers in Costa Rica. As expected, we find high levels of risk aversion, but even using that as a baseline, we further find that farmers behave even more cautiously when the setting is characterized by unknown or ambiguous risk (i.e. poor or non-reliable risk information). Secondly, we find that farmers, to a large extent, coordinated their decisions to secure a lower adaptation cost, and that communication among farmers strongly facilitated coordination.

2011-05-27

Conditional Cash Transfers and Payments for Environmental Services: A Conceptual Framework for Explaining and Judging Differences in Outcomes

Despite the recent popularity of conditional cash transfers (CCT) and payments for environmental services (PES) programs, what determines their success is not well understood. We developed a conceptual framework to give insight into some of the main determinants of CCT and PES program efficiency that hope to increase investments in human and environmental capital.

2011-05-23

Choice Experiments in Enviromental Impact Assessment: The Toro 3 Hydroelectric Project and the Recreo Verde Tourist Center in Costa Rica

Choice experiments, a stated preference valuation method, are proposed as a tool to assign monetary values to environmental externalities during the ex-ante stages of environmental impact assessment. This case study looks at the impacts of the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity’s Toro 3 hydroelectric project and its affects on the Recreo Verde tourism center in San Carlos, Costa Rica.

2011-02-10

Including Carbon Emissions from Deforestation in the Carbon Footprint of Beef

Effects of land use changes are starting to be included in estimates of life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so-called carbon footprints (CFs), from food production. Their omission can lead to serious underestimates, particularly for meat. Here we estimate emissions from the conversion of forest to pasture in the Legal Amazon Region (LAR) of Brazil and present a model to distribute the emissions from deforestation over products and time subsequent to the land use change.

2010-11-29

To trade or Not to Trade: A Firm-Level Analysis of Emissions Trading in Santiago, Chile

The authors surveyed firms participating in emissions trading programs in Santiago, Chile, to explore further whether tradable permits are appropriate for transition and developing economies. Their survey information revealed serious implementation and design flaws in Chile’s trading, but they are not more severe than the EU or U.S. systems. Countries with similar income levels and institutional maturity as Chile should be able to develop well-functioning permit trading schemes.

2010-11-29

Tradable Permits in Developing Countries: Evidence from Air Pollution in Santiago, Chile

Santiago was one of the first cities outside the OECD to implement a tradable permit program to control air pollution. This paper looks closely at the program’s performance over the past 10 years, stressing its similarities and discrepancies with trading programs in developed countries, and analyzing how it has reacted to regulatory adjustments and market shocks. Studying Santiago’s experience allows us to discuss the drawbacks and advantages of applying tradable permits in less developed countries.

2010-10-24

Fuel tax incidence in developing countries: The case of Costa Rica

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 percent 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 although the overall effect of a 10 percent fuel price hike through all types of direct and indirect spending would be slightly regressive, 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.

2010-09-29

Costa Rican transport policies: a stakeholder analysis

Costa Rica’s transport sector contributes to the aggravation of problems such as air pollution, vehicular congestion and traffic accidents that mainly affect the country’s urban areas. In this analysis, stakeholders associated with a key set of transport policies are identified and their roles in current and future policymaking are assessed.

2010-06-05

The Evidence Base for Environmental and Socioeconomic Impacts of “Sustainable” Certification

Initiatives certifying that farms and firms adhere to predefined environmental and social welfare production standards are increasingly popular. According to proponents, they create financial incentives for farms and firms to improve their environmental and socioeconomic performance. This paper reviews the evidence on whether sustainable certification of agricultural commodities and tourism operations actually has such benefits.

2010-03-26

Paying the Price of Sweetening Your Donation: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

Using a natural field experiment in a recreational site, a public good almost fully dependent on voluntary donations, the authors explored the crowding-out effect of gift rewards. First, they investigated whether receiving a map in appreciation of a donation crowded out prosocial behavior and found no significant effect of giving the map. Second, they explored the effect of adding the map to a treatment designed to increase donations. Interestingly, when the gift was combined with their attempt to trigger reputational and self image motives, the probability of donating decreased significantly, compared to the social reference treatment alone.

2010-03-18

Research-policy dialogue improves drinking water management

“To do high-quality research, you need to find out what policy makers need and nurture the interaction,” says Maria Angelica Naranjo, EfD researcher in Central America. Her research colleagues Roger Madrigal and Francisco Alpízar are exploring why some Costa Rican communities are successful in drinking water management while others are not. Policy makers and local communities are already using some of the researchers’ recommendations to bring change.

2010-03-18

Research helps save Costa Rica’s beaches

Unplanned, aggressive coastal development is threatening beautiful beaches. To help address one of Costa Rica’s most serious environmental problems, researchers from the Environment for Development initiative (EfD) are evaluating the performance and impact of a voluntary environmental regulation and certification initiative called the Blue Flag Ecological Program.

2010-03-12

The effects of national parks on local communities’ wages and employment in Costa Rica

Despite of the clear global environmental benefits of increasing the amount of protected areas, how these conservation policies affect the well being of individuals in nearby localities is still under debate. Using household surveys with highly disaggregated geographic reference, this study explores how national parks have affected wages and unemployment in Costa Rica for the period 2000-2007.

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