Seeing the forest, missing the field: Forests and agriculture in global climate change policy

Cinthia Soto Golcher*, Bas Arts, Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As the climate change problem becomes more eminent, there is more pressure to increase efforts in all sectors and countries. The land-use sector is seen as an option to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and key in achieving a balance in GHG emissions and removals by sinks by 2050, as envisioned in the Paris Agreement. This article presents two comparative case studies within the climate change arena and aims to understand how and why: 1) tropical deforestation and forest degradation have secured a prominent place on the international climate change agenda, while 2) agriculture has not secured a prominent place. We use the agenda-setting multi-stream approach (MSA), while adding a framing layer. Based on primary data (including an international workshop with forest and agriculture experts, interviews, and participation in key international meetings), and secondary data, this article concludes that REDD + is an example of how a condition was framed as a problem, a viable proposal was developed, and political will and receptivity was shown, all of which placed REDD + high on the agenda, and generated its legal and methodological framework over the course of ten years. In these efforts, the role of policy entrepreneurs was key. Agriculture, on the other hand, is a more complex sector with multiple interests and millions of stakeholders. The consideration of agriculture, in particular its mitigation component, is therefore a highly contentious issue. The fear of new binding commitments and the potential threat to food security and production, and the lack of a convincing proposal that addresses the multiple values of agriculture has impeded substantive progress. Also, the absence of a committed policy entrepreneur limits the place of agriculture in the climate change agenda under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-640
JournalLand Use Policy
Volume77
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Agenda setting
  • Agriculture
  • Climate change
  • Food
  • Framing
  • REDD+

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