In this interview, Torres explains the conception of Mexico’s Payment for Environmental Services (PES) program, the process of its expansion and its role in relationship to other federal environmental programs. He describes the implementation of pilot projects based upon similarly designed programs in Costa Rica, and the involvement of such organizations like the World Bank in the program’s funding. He talks about the importance of creating technical committees that provided means for discussing the program’s criteria for preventing deforestation. He addresses the operational challenges that he faced as director general of the National Forest Service of Mexico/Comision Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR) that was in charge of PES, including the implementation of matching-funds and price differentiation programs. Finally, he reflects on CONAFOR’s main goals in relation to PES and the sustainability of the program.
At the time of this interview, Mr. Torres was professor and secretary general of the Center for Research and Teaching Economics/Centro de Investigacióó y Docencia Económicas in Santa Fe, Mexico. He was the former director general of National Forest Service of Mexico/Comision Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR) from 2009 to 2011. He received a bachelor’s degree in Agronomics and Forestry from Chapingo Autonomous University in 1982. He obtained Masters degrees in Operations Research and Forest Management Planning from Oregon State University in 1987. He completed his doctorate in Economics and Management of Natural Resources from Oregon State University in 1989. In 1990 he served as the Director General of Mexico’s National Reforestation Program, and in 1993 he served as advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Forest Undersecretary. He has taught at institutions that include the Technological Institute of Monterrey (ITESM), the University of the Americas and has conducted research at the National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock (INIFAP).