by Christopher Riti

Pace Law School proudly hosted its annual Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Lecture on October 18, this year featuring renowned scholar James Salzman, the Samuel F. Mordecai Professor of Law and Nicholas Institute Professor of Environmental Policy at Duke University. His lecture, entitled What is the Emperor Wearing? A Critical Look at the Potential of Ecosystem Services for Environmental Protection, offered an insightful glimpse into the increasingly popular field of payments for ecosystem services (PES). Using the New York City drinking water supply system as an historic example of the economic potential of natural capital, Professor Salzman described the many ways in which mechanisms designed to incorporate ecosystem services may be institutionalized and strengthened. Perhaps more importantly, he skillfully identified many of the factors preventing the more widespread appreciation for these services – from market failures to institutional impediments.

Given the rapidly deteriorating state of ecosystems and natural environments throughout the global community – and the associated loss of invaluable economic and environmental services – Professor Salzman’s remarks were timely and broadly applicable. While conscious of the limitations and theoretical problems inherent to the PES model, Professor Salzman convinced us of its usefulness as a  framework for assessing and integrating environmental priorities into our societal structures.

To listen to this impressive lecture in its entirety, please click here.