Some students of mine (Mary Thompson and Manali Baruah) and I just got word that an article we wrote, “Seeing REDD+ as a Project of Environmental Governance”, has been accepted for a special edition of Environmental Science and Policy.  You know, getting articles accepted never really gets old . . .

While there is no abstract, for those who might be interested, here is the introduction:

1. Introduction

Since 2007, efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation have explicitly recognized the role of conservation, sustainable management, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, facilitated through the use of equitable financial incentives, as promising approaches for mitigating global climate change (known as REDD+). Questions have been raised concerning the issue of government within this so-called REDD+ framework, focusing on the structures that operationalize policy decisions related to deforestation and climate change.  However, the literature has yet to offer a careful consideration of how REDD+ is itself an emerging project of environmental governance – that is, a set of social norms and political assumptions that will steer societies and organizations in a manner that shapes collective decisions about the use and management of forest resources.

In this paper, we argue that REDD+ is more than an impartial container for the various tools and actors concerned with addressing anthropogenic climate change.  Instead, even as it takes shape, REDD+ is already functioning as a form of governance, a particular framing of the problem of climate change and its solutions that validates and legitimizes specific tools, actors and solutions while marginalizing others.  This framing raises important questions about how we might critically evaluate REDD+ programs and their associated tools and stakeholders in a manner that encourages the most effective and equitable pursuit of its goals.  Further, it calls into question the likelihood of achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions via REDD+ programs.

This paper has three parts.  First, we examine the current governmental structure of REDD+. While no single agency or organization holds a monopoly on the design or administration of REDD+ programs, we focus on two that have emerged at the forefront in transferring this concept from an idea into reality: the United Nations (via UN-REDD) and the World Bank (through the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, or FCFP). The second section of the paper considers how REDD+ functions, even at this early stage, as a largely unacknowledged project of environmental governance.  Here we focus on the objects to be governed, who is governing, and how desired conservation and sequestration outcomes are to be achieved under REDD+.  Finally, we illustrate how this framework attempts to align the interests of a wide range of stakeholders in this process to bring about desired environmental outcomes through the example of the formalization of indigenous peoples’ participation in REDD+.  We argue that this alignment has thus far been incomplete, suggesting an emerging crisis of governance within REDD+ that will compromise future project and policy goals, along with the well-being of various stakeholders.