Proposal to help finance the recovery of watershedsThursday March 8th, 2018
The importance of conservation and restoration of forests and soils become more evident this time of the water crisis. For this, we must remember the importance of public policies for natural resource management. These can take many forms, such as planning, environmental education and the command and control, which includes the licensing and inspection.
In recent times and increasingly comes the so-called economic instruments afloat.These also have various types, and the Payment for Environmental Services (PSA’s) one of the best known and spoken. It is generally defined as the ecosystem services provided by nature to human society (climate regulation, water supply, etc). Already environmental services are individual or collective initiatives that favor the maintenance, restoration or enhancement of ecosystem services.
The protection of water sources, then, is a concrete example of environmental service. The PSA is retribution, with money or other forms (comoprestação services, incentives, specific public policies and other benefits) for this service.
Many scholars, politicians and movements support and demand the implementation of these mechanisms, to support people and communities that protect and improve water resources, biodiversity, climate regulation and the passage, among other services.
But this requires some elements. First, the definition of institutions, including the “rules of the game”, as the definition of what environmental services will be a priority, who should pay and who should get the kind of return, criteria for evaluation and monitoring, among others. Along with this simple and fundamental question: money, where will it come?
In analyzing the situation of the state of São Paulo, we have today a relative improvement in terms of studies and actions of government organizations or not, public funds, pilot projects and more than one legal provision providing for the PSA.
But in practice it not much happened. And this time, it is important to review some of these points, beginning with funding mechanisms for some more concrete action to encourage the conservation and restoration of environmental services, especially water.
Starting with the Federal Executive, we need to take the role of the stretch (Article 41) of the new Forest Act which deals with support programs and incentives for conservation and rehabilitation in an integrated manner to agricultural and forestry production, which includes PSA, incentives tax, credit and support the production and marketing.
Congress clears the bill (PL) 792, 2007 on the National Policy on Payment for Environmental Services. His last move was in the Finance and Taxation Committee. The bill follows in discussion, though it is important to remember that, in its current form, limits the payment for the Permanent Preservation Areas (PPAs) and Legal Reserves – only in critical indicated basins act set of federal agencies for the Environment and Water resources.
At the state level we have laws, with only adjustments or even their effective application. A source remembered for these resources is the Ecological VAT, which is a kind of economic instrument that pays local governments, not people.São Paulo, in 1994, was one of the first states to have this kind of law, but after so long in force is necessary that this legislation is updated for today it is not able to contribute to the proper management of natural resources. The Ecological ICMS of São Paulo is a way to calculate the division between the municipalities of part of the tax on sales and services (ICMS). This division of the called party quota considers various criteria, with higher weights in sharing the population, economic activity and the collection of each municipality.
Without going into the merits of the criteria and proportion between them, we draw attention to some points that deserve a quick review:
• There are no criteria for monitoring or binding for the use of these resources by the municipalities, which have at their discretion. The regulation, if it is possible at the state level could be made at the municipal level, prioritizing use of these resources according to local conditions.
• For agriculture it is considered only the acreage of each municipality, without criteria and productivity, jobs and environmental sustainability.
• Only are subject to compensation Conservation Units (CUs) created by the state government, excluding federal, municipal and private, unlike other states.
• Compensation for sustainable use UCs is irrelevant (in the case of Environmental Protection Areas – APAs) or zero (Extractive Reserves and Sustainable Development).
• The watershed protection areas cridas state (as Billings and Guarapiranga) does not generate compensation.
• The dams of public water supply, such as the Alto Tiete and the Cantareira System are not covered (the dams only), understanding that does not contribute to combat the current crisis.
A practical way to evaluate the priority given to a topic in public policy is the budget. So a good exercise is to seek expressions such as water sources, climate change, environment, water resources, itemized in the budget law for 2015 (Law 15,646 / 2014). This helps to better understand how they are (or not) apply existing laws.
Another aspect in which St. Paul has had more protagonism is the Water Resources System, with a large institutional apparatus. There is a great technical accumulation and organizations with Basin Committees installed in all regions and mechanism such as charging for water. The funds thus available in the state budget for 2015 is approximately R $ 138 million, but in practice the regulations and practices of this system prevent the implementation of these payments for environmental services.
São Paulo has a law State Policy on Climate Change (Law 13,798 / 2009 and Decree 55,947 / 2010) which provides for the PSA. However, the Pollution Control Fund (FECOP), responsible for carrying out such payments has only R $ 10 foreseen in the 2015 budget.
Now with the new state law that deals with the Forest Code in São Paulo, it creates a new opportunity. The new law authorizes the Government to create PSA program, giving priority to family farms and water sources.
It is proposed with these points above a minimum agenda so that we have better and more effective public policies for the protection and recovery of water sources in São Paulo, involving people and communities that provide environmental services. (Originally published on Planet Blog journal season).
* Roberto Resende is agronomist and president of Green Initiative