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Colombia course focuses on Payments for Ecosystem Services

In May, I had the opportunity attend CSF’s Economic Tools for Conservation training course in Colombia. This course specifically focused on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) as a tool for conservation.

This course was held in the beautiful colonial city of Villa de Leyva, located in the Eastern Andes mountains of Colombia, about four hours’ drive from Bogotá, its capital city. In addition to breathtaking surroundings, the course kept students engaged with world-class instruction by some of the top environmental economists, and technical experts in South America. Instructors included Jorge Madeira Nogueira, professor and Head of the Economics Department of the University of Brasilia (UNB) in Brazil, Rocío Moreno, a Colombian economist specializing in PES, Jorge Maldonado, a respected economics professor at the Centro de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Económico (CEDE) at the Universidad de los Andes, Alfonso Malky, Bolivian economist and CSF Technical Manager, and Mauricio Medinaceli, a Bolivian economist with extensive experience in the hydrocarbon sector.

The course’s focus on Payments for Ecosystem Services attracted students involved in project coordination both in the field and those working in the technical side of conservation. 27 students came from all around South America, including places such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. The course participants spent two weeks engaging in full days of intensive class instruction, activities, scenarios, role-playing games, homework, and even tests! They also had the opportunity to expand their professional networks, discuss relevant issues with colleagues, and make lasting friendships with fellow participants.

The participants left the course with newfound knowledge on how to use economic tools to benefit nature conservation, and learned that choices that benefit the environment are usually smart economic decisions as well. With these new skills and strengthened professional networks, these course participants will continue working together and begin unifying their efforts for conservation of the Andean Amazon.

The course was offered by Conservation Strategy Fund and the ICAA Support Unit, within the framework of the Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon (ICAA), a regional program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).