Entries tagged with “REDD+”.


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.

are killing me.  But, the book is here, and I am cleaning it up.  I hate page proofs.  Deeply.  This is the sort of detail work I loathe – combing back through 90,000 words looking for misspellings and erroneous punctuation.  It is taking days, because you can only focus that hard for so long.  And at the same time, I am cleaning up the index.

Oh, and that is on top of the article that was due back in today – I worked with two of my Ph.D. students, Mary Thompson and Manali Baruah, to produce a paper that examines how REDD+ functions as a form of unacknowledged environmental governance (defining legitimate terms and actors within debates over how to implement terrestrial carbon sequestration projects in forest areas).  We’ll see how it does in this round of peer review.

And then there is the talk I am supposed to be giving at UNC – Chapel Hill on Friday.  I’ll be discussing how we think about livelihoods in development, how current framings might have carried us as far as they are going to, and what a new framing might look like.  Yeah, it is coming together, but not as quickly as I’d hoped.

But, without further ado, the first few hundred words of Delivering Development:

The WWF reports that the upcoming meeting of the REDD+ Partnership issued invitations to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) only a week before the meeting.  The WWF’s Paul Chatterton argues:

“By waiting until the last minute to invite civil society participants to this meeting, the organizers have virtually guaranteed that these invitees will not be able to participate.”

I agree completely – most NGOs operate with very small budgets, and the soaring cost of last-minute international plane tickets will price many NGOs out of the meetings entirely, and greatly curtail the size of the teams other NGOs might otherwise send.  Further, this is not accidental – these meetings are well-orchestrated events, and while it is possible that a single organization, or even a handful, might be accidentally omitted, there is simply no way that the program organizers “forgot” the entire NGO community.  Clearly, someone is trying to minimize the involvement of NGOs, who are the principal voice for the communities who live in and around many of the forest resources likely to be covered under REDD+.

Aside from the underhanded nature of this move, why does this matter?  As I argue in my upcoming book, we are lumbering (no pun intended) slowly toward a global agreement on how to use the protection of threatened forest resources and the reforestation of degraded forest areas as means of offsetting carbon emissions as part of a much larger global carbon market.  This is not a problem, in and of itself.  Cap and trade is not inherently flawed – but its success is completely contingent on its implementation.  And what I am seeing from the private markets (via informal proposals that get passed my way) is a lot of project planning that completely ignores local communities.

Now, think what you will about the rights of communities to the natural resources in and around them – I know that some argue that these rights have to be curtailed for the greater good of humanity.  I happen to disagree, as I feel that this stance makes a small group of people who play little role in the global climate issues that REDD+ is trying to address responsible for bearing the negative impacts of our efforts to deal with these problems – in short, we are outsourcing the pain of mitigation to these communities.  However, whatever your stance might be on this, there is no refuting the fact that people, when forced off of a resource they once could use, have a very high incentive to monkey wrench these projects in an effort to regain access to the resource (there is a large literature on this with regard to how people displaced by protected areas like game reserves respond).  Thus, these proposals, and this odd effort on the part of the REDD+ Partnership, are more or less guaranteeing a high rate of project failure until someone figures out that they will have to take the needs of these local populations quite seriously.