Reimagining instrument constituencies: the case of conservation policy in Mexico

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Department of Social Sciences


© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Throughout the developing world, payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs are popular policy instruments that allow those who rely on such amenities as drinking water and clean air to pay the landowners who, in turn, provide and care for those services so the resources are protected and sustainably available in the future. Despite the popularity of PES programs as policy instruments, they have been proven largely ineffective in achieving their long-term goals. Specifically, they have failed to conserve the targeted ecosystem services. We examine Mexican instrument constituencies that have promoted use of a PES program, the payments for hydrological services (PHS) program. Instrument constituencies are groups of policy actors who are bound by an interest in a particular policy instrument or solution. Although the PHS program has been in existence for nearly 20 years, the evidence points to policy drift and overall policy failure. The path-dependent nature of the instrument constituency and resulting feedbacks have crowded out any chance of more effective forest or water conservation programs from being established. A case-based counterfactual analysis is employed to consider alternative program choices that could exist in the absence of a PHS instrument constituency.

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Policy Sciences