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Central America


Agroforestry Price Supports as a Conservation Tool: Mexican Shade Coffee

Economic policies that boost profits from agroforesty, thereby creating financial incentives for land managers to favor these systems over less environmentally friendly land uses, could, in theory, have ancillary environmental benefits. This paper analyzes primary and secondary data to determine whether a voluntary price support program for Mexican coffee-mostly grown in shaded systems that supply important ecosystem services- has had such "win-win" benefits by stemming land-use change in the coffee sector.


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.


Environmental Policy, Fuel Prices, and the Switch to Natural Gas in Santiago, Chile

The author analyzes the role of environmental policies and energy cost savings in the switch to natural gas by stationary sources in Chile. There is skepticism about using market-based policies (economic instruments) in the developing world—permit trading programs versus emissions fees. This paper produces new evidence of the role of environmental regulations and market forces in a successful air-quality improvement program in Chile, a less-developed country.


Taxes, Permits, and the Diffusions of a New Technology

The author looks at the effects of the choice between taxes and permits on the pattern of adoption of a new emissions abatement technology. The regulator determines the optimal ex-post amount of emissions before firms start to adopt the technology. Each firm decides when to adopt, considering benefits, costs, and advantage gained over their rivals, producing a sequence of adoption that is “diffused” into the industry over time.


Deforestation Impacts of Environmental Services Payments – Costa Rica’s PSA Program 2000–2005

The authors estimated the deforestation impact of Costa Rica’s pioneering environmental services payments program (Pagos por Servicios Ambientales, or PSA) between 2000 and 2005. Despite finding that less than 1 in 100 of enrolled land parcels would have been deforested annually without payments, the program’s potential for impact was increased by explicitly targeting areas with deforestation pressure and increasing some payments to enroll land that would have been cleared.


Anonymity, Reciprocity and Conformity: Evidence from Voluntary Contributions to a Natural Park in Costa Rica

In a natural field experiment, the authors quantified the importance of anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity through the provision of social reference levels in order to explain voluntary contributions. In the study setting, the effects of the various treatments were small, suggesting that the self-image as an honorable person, irrespective of other people’s opinions, could be an important explanation of contribution behavior. The experiment overall showed no clear evidence that current practice by charitable organizations is inefficient.


Estimating Spatial Interactions in Deforestation Decisions

As part of the book Frontiers of Biodiversity Economics, Cambridge University Press, this chapter describes a model of interactions in the context of deforestation, based on an equilibrium in beliefs about the neighbours’ actions, and applies the model to data of two regions within Costa Rica.


Land Conservation Policies and Income Distribution: Who Bears the Burden of our Environmental Efforts?

We analyze how land conservation policies affect income distribution looking at changes in wages and rents. Land conservation policies restrict the land for agricultural use. We study how these restrictions affect workers and landowners incomes. Aggregate rents rise when protected areas increase despite the reduction of land availability. Real wages decrease as a consequence of higher prices.


Markets for the Environment

This paper, examine why markets are being widely proposed to address environmental problems and manage natural resources, give some background on their history, and speculate on their future.


Assessing linkages between agriculture and biodiversity in Central America: Historical overview and future perspectives

The objective of this report is to explore the impact of agriculture on biodiversity conservation in Central America, identify the factors which perpetuate or exacerbate agricultural systems or management practices that adversely impact biodiversity conservation, and examine different strategies and approaches that could be used to potentially mitigate some of the negative impacts of agriculture on biodiversity conservation, either by making the agricultural systems more compatible with biodiversity conservation, or by removing the stimuli for agricultural expansion into remaining natural areas or unsustainable agricultural practices.


Collective versus Random Fining: An Experimental Study on Controlling Ambient Pollution

This paper presents an experimental study of two different pollution compliance games: collective vis-à-vis random fining as a means to regulate non-point pollution. Result suggests the importance of considering subject pool differences in the evaluation of environmental policies by means of experiments, particularly if those policies involve certain forms of management decisions.


Essays on Environmental Policy-Making in Developing Countries: Applications to Costa Rica

This thesis consists of five papers dealing with fairly heterogeneous issues, based on the problems or topics analyzed, but also based on the methodologies used to approach them. The overriding motives are the design of environmental policies in the context of a typical developing country (where Costa Rica is used as a representative of such countries), and the study and application of techniques that can provide the necessary information for policy-making.


Nature helps farmers cope with climate change

Central America has more than 2.3 million families depending on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods, making them vulnerable to climate change risks such as rising temperatures, extreme events such as drought and flooding, and also crop diseases. Researchers associated with the Swedish-based Environment for Development (EfD) initiative are running an ecosystems-based adaptation project in Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica that supports smallholder farming communities in adapting to changing conditions. This project scales up the needs and opportunities of smallholders to promote changes in public policies at a regional level.


Rural people must deal with threats to drinking water

People in Central America’s rural areas will face a 20 percent decline of drinking water availability by 2050, estimates show. EfD researchers are now collecting information from 8 000 households in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica. The primary aim is to map capabilities and obstacles for communities to adapt, and to provide community leaders tools and skills to respond to drier scenarios. EfD findings also support governmental adaptation policies.


Should the squeaky wheel get all the oil?

Payments for ecosystem services in Costa Rica: Does it matter who gets paid and why for the efficiency of payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs aimed to reduce deforestation and forest degradation? This is being studied by EfD Central America researchers.


Success factors for rural drinking water supply identified by EfD Costa Rica researchers

Why can some communities succeed in solving collective problems such as provision of drinking water while others fail? Róger Madrigal, EfD Research Fellow, conducted fieldwork in 41 Costa Rican rural villages in order to identify success and failure factors. He made a substantial effort to present the results in an accessible way to people from all the communities as well as to academic peers and high level policy makers.


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.


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.