PUBLISHED:October 13, 2009

Oct. 23 DELPF symposium to focus on ecosystem services markets

Oct. 13, 2009 — An Oct. 23 symposium at Duke Law School will focus on the government’s role in emerging ecosystem services markets.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will bring together specialists from government, academia, and the private sector to examine a range of policy options for compensating farmers and other land stewards for their provision of such ecosystem services as clean water, flood protection, and pollination. The role of carbon offsets on public lands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be a particular focus of discussion.

The event is sponsored by the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum (DELPF), an interdisciplinary student-edited journal, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Services and Markets.

Robert Bonnie, senior adviser for environment and climate to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, will deliver the keynote address. Bonnie previously headed the environmental markets programs at the Environmental Defense Fund.

The symposium begins at 9 a.m. in Room 3037 at Duke Law School on Duke’s West Campus. Parking is available at the Bryan Center. Continuing Legal Education credit is available.

For a complete agenda and to register, visit the DELPF website.

Ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and water purification are public goods and worthy of compensation, says Professor Jim Salzman, a conference organizer and pioneering scholar in the emerging and fast-growing field of ecosystem services markets.

"Unless the landholders who provide these services receive compensation, then the services they provide are free and there’s really no economic reason to manage their land so they keep providing those services," says Salzman, Duke’s Mordecai Professor of Law and Nicholas Institute Professor of Environmental Policy.

The fact that the USDA established the Office of Environmental Services and Markets as its first new division in 30 years is a key indicator of how important ecosystem services are to the public well-being, he adds.

"DELPF feels extremely privileged to be working directly with government agencies on such progressive new policies," says Patrick Duggan '10, the journal’s editor-in-chief. "We hope that this symposium will promote not just ideas — but action — in regards to the future of ecosystem services."