Projects per year
Carbonizing forest governance:
Analyzing the consequences of REDD+ for multilevel forest governance
Marjanneke J. Vijge
Despite the fifty years of global action to combat deforestation and forest degradation, the world is still losing its forests at great scale. A recent governance initiative that has raised high expectations to address global deforestation is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The idea of REDD+ is to compensate developing countries for their forest-related carbon emission reductions. Through REDD+, forests are governed for their carbon content. I therefore see REDD+ as the embodiment of what I call a “carbonization” of forest governance. This thesis analyzes the consequences of carbonization for multilevel forest governance. It studies whether carbonization leads to 1) a simplification of forest governance through a prime focus on carbon, or a focus on multiple carbon and non-carbon benefits; 2) a centralization or dispersion of authority; 3) a privileging of scientific knowledge—what I call a technicalization—or a diversity in the production and use of knowledge; and 4) a primary reliance on market instruments—what I refer to as marketization—or reliance on a mix of market and non-market instruments. I discuss whether REDD+ can be seen as a case of increased homogenization of environmental governance through simplification, centralization, technicalization, and/or marketization.
The research questions are as follows:
1. How does the carbonization of forest governance manifest itself at different levels, and with what consequences for multilevel forest governance?
2. What does this analysis of the consequences of carbonization reveal about the prospects of a homogenization of environmental governance?
This thesis uses discourses as proxies for how and with what consequences the carbonization of forest governance manifests itself. The thesis analyzes how REDD+ is being framed by policy actors and practitioners, and operationalized in policy, institutional and project developments and design. Triangulation of data is established through reliance on qualitative and quantitative research methods, including semi-structured interviews, surveys, reviews of primary and secondary literature, and direct and participant observation during field visits, project meetings and conferences.
Chapter 2 analyzes how carbonization manifests itself in UNFCCC policy debates and developments surrounding measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems that are centrally implicated in REDD+. This chapter shows that at the global level, REDD+ is framed as a mechanism to facilitate results-based compensation for carbon emission reductions, to be measured through national, state-based, expert-led MRV systems. The chapter argues that this may well induce a simplified focus on carbon, a technicalization of forest governance, and a centralization of authority in national state agencies responsible for measuring and accounting for forest carbon units. This might marginalize non-carbon forest services and empower certain groups of actors such as technical experts at the cost of, for example, local communities. Who will be empowered through REDD+, however, ultimately depends on the context-specific operationalization and implementation of REDD+ at the national and local level.
Chapter 3 contains an in-depth case study of how carbonization manifests itself in the Green India Mission (GIM), the cornerstone of India’s national REDD+ strategy. The chapter shows that the GIM frames REDD+ as an opportunity to synergistically generate carbon and non-carbon benefits, and promote a further devolution of authority in Indian forest governance to local communities. Chapter 3 nevertheless concludes that this is not likely to be realized without significant investments in benefit-sharing mechanisms and biodiversity and community-based monitoring systems in India.
Chapter 4 presents the in-depth case study of the first REDD+ pilot project in India. The chapter analyzes the prominence of REDD+-related discourses among stakeholders and in project design. The chapter shows that the manifestation of carbonization at project level can be very different from the dominant framing of REDD+ at the global level as a carbon-centric, centralized and technocratic mechanism. The project case study shows how the carbonization of forest governance might become a vehicle to generate multiple carbon and non-carbon benefits, diversify the production and use of knowledge and the types of actors involved therein, disperse authority among actors involved in forest governance, and diversify reliance on both market- and fund-based finances.
Chapter 5 contains a cross-country comparative analysis of the prominence of REDD+-related discourses among national policy actors and in national REDD+ policy documents of seven countries: Cameroon, Indonesia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Peru and Tanzania. The chapter shows that though REDD+ is mostly framed as a mechanism to generate carbon and non-carbon benefits, most countries pay very little attention to non-carbon monitoring. Almost all countries lay out detailed plans to diversify the production and use of knowledge through the involvement of local communities in REDD+ MRV systems, but currently lack the institutional capacity to implement such plans. Almost all REDD+ policy documents plan for a national state agency to account for and distribute REDD+ payments. There is, however, strikingly little discussion of how to finance REDD+. The chapter argues that a simplification, a centralization and, to a lesser extent, a technicalization of national forest governance are possible consequences of carbonization.
The concluding chapter shows that carbonization of forest governance manifests itself differently at different levels of governance, with varying consequences for multilevel forest governance. Though homogenization does not yet occur, it may happen in the long run due to the centralization of authority that countries envision in accounting for and distributing REDD+ payments, as well as countries’ capacity gaps in non-carbon and community-based monitoring, which make a simplification and technicalization of national forest governance possible consequences of REDD+. In answering the second research question regarding the prospects of a homogenization of environmental governance, the case of REDD+ shows that developing countries retain authority to design policies, but in diversified ways. I argue that though diversity in policies and practices exist, this goes hand in hand with—and sometimes even flows from—efforts to homogenize in order to measure and regulate environmental outcomes at central (global and/or national) levels. As such, the challenges facing global environmental governance lie not only in measuring and controlling environmental outcomes, but also in managing the diversity and fragmentation that arise from these efforts.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||5 Apr 2016|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
- forest policy
- environmental degradation