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3ie-LIDC Seminar Series: Can We Save Our Forests Through Payments and Decentralization: Assessing the Evidence

Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 17:30 to 19:00

Speaker: Cyrus Samii, Assistant Professor, Department of Politics, New York University.


About the seminar: This seminar presented results from a systematic review of the impact of payments for environmental services (PES) that set natural forest conservation as the goal and decentralized forest management (DFM) studies on deforestation and poverty in developing countries. The review was motivated by debates over whether conservation and poverty reduction goals in developing countries tend to conflict or might be complementary. A search for rigorous evaluation studies turned up eleven quantitative and nine associated qualitative evaluation studies on PES, and eight quantitative and five associated qualitative evaluation studies on DFM. With the evidence available, it was found that there is little reason for optimism concering the potential for current PES and DFM approaches to generate both conservation and poverty reduction benefits. Emphasis was placed on the call for the production of much better impact studies, employing randomized field experiments when possible, to assess whether the apparent incompatibility of conservation and poverty reduction might be overcome through programming innovations, and how this might be done with reasonable efficiency.


About the speaker: Cyrus Samii writes and teaches on quantitative social science methodology, with an emphasis on causal inference, and on substantive topics related to governance in contexts where formal institutions are weak, the political economy of development, the political economy of environmental conservation, and causes and consequences of violent conflict. His work has appeared in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Development Effectiveness, and Survey Methodology.  He has designed and carried out field studies in Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Israel, Liberia, and Nepal.   He holds a PhD from Columbia University and BA from Tufts University.

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The seminar is part of the 3ie-LIDC Seminar Series 'What works in international development'.