'Payments for ecosystem services' (PES) is rapidly becoming a popular governance intervention within natural resource management to align land-use stewardship to conserve critical ecosystem services while simultaneously improving human well-being through the provision of incentives. This paper introduces two novel components for refining the legitimacy of PES in water resource management. Firstly, we broaden consideration of human well-being in PES beyond income effects by considering justice as the freedom or capability to 'do and be' whatever is desired. Secondly, this paper applies social multi-criteria evaluation as a decision-support framework to determine the acceptability and payment vehicle of PES within a set of alternative policy considerations for a complex ecosystem management decision. Through both technical and social evaluations of different management options against a set of criteria, we highlight the legitimacy that different PES designs may have for improving water quality and capabilities for well-being.
- Capabilities approach
- Social multi-criteria evaluation
- Water resources management