Costa Rica's Payments for Ecosystems Services (PES) programme has become something of an icon in the world of conservation. Its innovative blend of economic and regulatory instruments - and its hitches and successes - provide a valuable source of inspiration for other countries that are looking for effective ways to conserve and regenerate ecosystems. Since 1997, nearly one million hectares of forest in Costa Rica have been part of the PES programme at one time or another, and forest cover has now returned to over 50 per cent of the country's land area, from a low of just 20 per cent in the 1980s. What lessons can be learnt from the 20 years since it was founded? Also published in Spanish, this paper is for local practitioners, international researchers and donors who are interested in the Costa Rican experience.