Neoliberalism in Denial in Actor-oriented PES Research? A Rejoinder to Van Hecken et al. (2018) and a Call for Justice

Fletcher, Robert; Büscher, Bram


In this response to Van Hecken et al. (2018), we seek to clarify the analysis (Fletcher and Büscher, 2017) they critique in the face of gross distortion and redirect the discussion back to the point we sought to make: that it is crucial to point out that PES is a neoliberal conservation paradigm, and that this acknowledgement should be made even if PES implementation is far from any neoliberal “ideal” in practice. Only by following this nuanced perspective on PES that integrates agency and structure can we acknowledge what is inherently flawed about the paradigm: namely that it constrains broader opportunities for social and environmental justice beyond how local actors subject to PES interventions creatively appropriate the mechanism. This is why we titled our original article “The PES Conceit,” as its promotion constrains these broader opportunities, even as they do not work out as planned.