This policy brief, published by the Global Canopy Programme, proposes a system called Proactive Investment in Natural Capital (PINC), to reward countries for conserving large areas of tropical forest that act as 'global utilities' providing ecosystem services essential for preserving global food and energy security.

The authors suggest that the system, could complement current proposals for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). They argue that REDD could encourage countries with historically low deforestation rates to destroy their forests. They point out that if REDD successfully brings deforestation rates down — to zero eventually — then in the long-term, countries will not be able to receive payments for reducing deforestation.

The alternative, PINC, would build on existing systems that pay for ecosystem services, such as eco-certification, although scaling-up funding for standing forests is still a challenge, say the authors. To be effective, PINC requires capacity building and improved governance across the world. Land tenure reform will be needed in many countries, as will local participation in decision making and training in forest management. But, if appropriately designed, PINC could provide local communities with co-benefits such as poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation.