Multilevel governance issues

Many have argued that a multilevel approach with multiple actors improves “differentiation and specialization” in policy design and implementation and creates adaptive policy that can meet diverse territorial needs.

For both REDD+ and many benefit sharing mechanisms, a complex interplay of actors is required to achieve a programme’s multiple, integrated objectives. These interact both vertically (international to local) and horizontally (e.g., across communities, households, etc.).

Achieving cross-sectoral and multilevel coordination requires a deep understanding of the underlying dynamics among actors to find solutions that challenge business-as-usual trajectories and address effectiveness and equity goals.

Supporting the flow of information across levels and sectors

If interests among stakeholders are already well aligned, the focus will be on coordination to ensure the availability and flow of information across levels and sectors, which can be fostered by independent information brokers and neutral and accountable intermediaries. Government, NGOs, and donors should improve the organization and distribution of responsibilities, such as by governments setting clear mandates for cross-sectoral coordination. REDD+ funders can also act towards improving collaboration; the World Bank and UN-REDD have different rules regarding free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for REDD+, but funds also overlap for the same activities. Alignment will improve efficiency.

Political negotiations and procedural justice to align interests and address power imbalances

Aligning interests will often require a political negotiation and including a wider range of actors in collaborative processes. Multistakeholder processes also need to address the power imbalances between the different stakeholders through procedural justice. Addressing power imbalances could involve empowering representatives of communities or women with skills and capacity, or the inclusion of the participation of local actors throughout an initiative. It will also be crucial to clarify rights, whether through physical georeferenced maps, and to assure robust safeguards and redress mechanisms to facilitate negotiations (Larson et al. 2018[1]).

At the subnational level in Peru, there is no direct participation in regional REDD+ roundtables by local governments and civil society organizations, such as farmers’ associations and other producers’ organizations. Indigenous peoples’ organizations have been able to participate only minimally. This has had a negative impact on the legitimacy of REDD+.

The European Rural Development Policy (RDP) is an EU-wide progamme that aims to address environmental, social and economic challenges across 27 European Union (EU) member states.

Decentralization is determined not only by institutional arrangements, but more importantly, by the the degree to which local authorities and institutions are empowered. Therefore, to improve governance, rural development policy approaches need to consider the roles of, and dynamics between, actors, institutions, networks, social capital and administrative capability.

LEADER is an EU funded programme to support activities — such as advice, training, mentoring, support to develop a business plan and the allocation of capital funding — that improves quality of life in rural areas. When it was carried out in France, despite the presence of both government and non-government actors, the politically elite, such as mayors and councilors, were the primary decision-makers, and did not allow a system of wider representation. Thus, decentralization was used as a tool for power, and leveraged to gain control over local decisions. LEADER has also increasingly been used as a tool for collective local action – for example in Finland, the program saw increases in knowledge and interest in cross sectoral rural development, inclusivity, cooperation and capacity.

Vietnam has also adopted a legal framework on REDD+ to provide an inclusive political space for actors to engage in REDD+ decision making. Yet, despite the country’s demonstrated political commitment to inclusive decision making, momentum in stakeholder interest in participation has waned. Initially, there was high motivation for various actors to get involved. Reasons included becoming visible to donors, learning and obtaining knowledge, and seeking funding opportunities.

Yet participation in meetings waned over the years due to limited capacity (knowledge, skills, time and money) among various stakeholders (Pham et al. 2021e[2]). To ensure inclusive REDD+ decision making in Vietnam, understanding the political context, addressing underlying power dynamics in the existing government regime, building up coalitions for change among political elites and civil society, and fostering sustainable political will and commitment are all essential.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite actors’ initial interest in REDD+, enthusiasm has waned over time due to stakeholder concerns rarely being taken into account in decision-making processes. There continues to be a weak civil society and indigenous group presence, while international organizations continue to dominate. Further, government agencies can easily manipulate REDD+ participation in the DRC to serve their own purposes (for example, by belatedly involving civil society organizations to meet participation requirements set by donors), thereby failing to address the underlying problem of power and politics. If stakeholders’ concerns are not incorporated in current policies and project outcomes, actors will lose interest and choose not to participate. Therefore, even with government efforts to increase the inclusiveness of decision making, simply creating new institutional arrangements will not guarantee greater inclusion in policymaking as there need to be changes in the nature of power and the political space (Pham et al. 2021a[3]).

In Siak district in Indonesia, a large area of deep peat that a private company had returned to government control was almost distributed to smallholders under the national agrarian reform programme, despite a moratorium on new development on peatland. The resolution of this policy incoherence was helped by civil society organizations, which facilitated connections between jurisdictions and national government agencies. Through coordination by local and national civil society networks in support of the district government, 4,000 ha of the area are now under communal management (Seymour et al. 2020[4]). The involvement of civil society networks in projects should not be disregarded, as they can help coordinate and assist with issues that may arise across different levels of government.

In the Nomedjoh village in Cameroon, information sharing and transparency were not issues with the REDD+ project in large part due to the efforts of local authority figures, who helped with the disclosure of information about project activities during the FPIC process. Interviewees expressed praise to the pastor for helping bridging information gaps and enhancing local residents’ rights and the goals of the project. This seems to be especially the case given that a large proportion of villages are illiterate. This case study highlights the important role that local authority figures can play in helping disseminate information about REDD+ projects to the broader community (Tegegne et al, 2021).Wong et al, 2017).

As a platform linking leaders from 38 states and provinces around the world, the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCFTF) has served as a source of knowledge and inspiration for several jurisdictional initiatives in Indonesia, which have sent governors and senior staff to annual meetings of the GCFTF. GCFTF and Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari (LTKL) – an association of districts in Indonesia that support jurisdictional approaches – play similar horizontal facilitation functions: both offer a peer group against which member jurisdictions can benchmark their progress towards sustainability, along with supplying technical assistance to member jurisdictions in areas such as planning and monitoring across member jurisdictions. For example, LTKL provides a platform linking districts committed to green development, with meetings facilitated by LTKL having helped district heads and their staff to identify common interests and challenges, and having provided a platform to learn from each other’s experiences. Furthermore, the LTKL Secretariat has helped member districts by mobilizing technical assistance and offering programmes such as a Masterclass series to build the districts’ capacity to develop investment portfolios, while its Festival Kabupaten Lestari or Sustainable District Festival provides an opportunity for the exchange of lessons learned between member districts (Seymour et al. 2020[5]).

A study suggests that the emergence of a co-management partnership between the Peruvian government’s National Forest Conservation Programme (PNCB) – a conditional payment scheme aiming to encourage sustainable forest management – and indigenous representative group Native Federation of Madre de Dios (FENAMAD) could have several positive impacts. Co-management at the regional scale supports the inclusion of local political considerations in government-led climate change mitigation programmes designed at the national scale. Furthermore, the partnership addresses vertical institutional gaps by bolstering the regional presence of PNCB and strengthening the conditional payment scheme’s territorial presence, as FENAMAD is a permanent regional institution. Finally, the partnership helps strengthen the monitoring and implementation of the conservation payment scheme (Dupuits and Cronkleton 2020[6]).

[1]Larson, A.M., Barletti, J.P.S., Ravikumar, A., Korhonen-Kurki, K., n.d. 2018. Some coordination problems cannot be solved through coordination.

[2]Pham, Thu Thuy, Ngo, H.C., Dao, T.L.C., Hoang, T.L., Moeliono, M., 2021b. Participation and influence of REDD+ actors in Vietnam, 2011–2019. Global Environmental Change 68, 102249.

[3]Pham, Thu Thuy, Le, T.T.T., Tuyet, H.N.K., Pham, V.T., Tran, P.H.N.K., Tran, T.D., Tran, N.M.H., Nguyen, T.T.A., Nguyen, T.V.A., 2021a. Impacts of Payment for Forest Ecosystem Services in Protecting Forests in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam. Forests 12, 1383.

[4]The Jurisdictional Approach in Indonesia: Incentives, Actions, and Facilitating Connections

[5]Seymour, F.J., Aurora, L., Arif, J., 2020. The Jurisdictional Approach in Indonesia: Incentives, Actions, and Facilitating Connections. Front. For. Glob. Change 3, 503326.

[6]Dupuits, E., Cronkleton, P., 2020. Indigenous tenure security and local participation in climate mitigation programs: Exploring the institutional gaps of REDD + implementation in the Peruvian Amazon. Env Pol Gov 30, 209–220.