30 September 2019 | 15:30 - 17:30 | R12 - Wing 2

Committed and held accountable? Exploring accountability relations of state, business and civil society organisations in multi-level forest governance

In recent times, states and business have made major commitments related to forests to move away from unsustainable business-as-usual pathways. Yet, so far rhetoric still dominates: large scale international investments in tropical deforestation continue, EU bioeconomy strategies seem to be at odds with climate goals and measurable outcomes in terms of avoided emissions are lacking, signaling problems with current governance responses and ineffectiveness of voluntary commitments. Arguably, success in achieving such commitments will depend on robust accountability structures. It is assumed that a number of enabling conditions can enhance transparency and lead to desired transformational change away from unsustainable business-as-usual practices and their underlying power relations, including: i) new information (e.g. analyses of historical environmental footprints, emission displacement and leakage), made possible by ii) new technologies (e.g. remote sensing), and iii) new coalitions between different members of civil society. This session aims to examine the role of politics and power relations and its effects on accountability structures in forest governance. We call for papers that investigate enabling (and hindering) conditions for accountability in meeting climate and development commitments, and provide lessons for improved forest and land use governance.

Chair: Prof Maria Brockhaus


Puzzle pieces or poker chips? How citizens use multistakeholder forums to hold government and NGOs accountable

Greater coordination and collaboration among actors – particularly across governance levels and sectors – is one of the main strategies proposed to support the achievement of climate goals regarding land and forest use. Such strategies have recently been referred to as landscape approaches, multistakeholder initiatives or jurisdictional approaches, but they emerge from a history of similar efforts at participatory processes, integrated conservation and development initiatives or co-management arrangements. To what extent have these past experiences informed current efforts at collaboration? How are new initiatives addressing power relations and inequity in order to assure legitimacy and accountability in processes and outcomes?

This paper is based on the comparative analysis of 14 multistakeholder forums (MSFs) established to conserve forests and/or improve land use, primarily in subnational jurisdictions. We focus on four countries - Brazil, Peru, Indonesia and Ethiopia – and specifically on forums that bring together subnational (and sometimes national) government, NGOs, grassroots organizations and private sector stakeholders in a specific geographical location. Data were collected through 30 to 40 structured, in-depth interviews for each MSF, with organizers, participants and non-participants, as well as with key informants who have knowledge and firsthand experience on the context of forest management in each region. In four cases, focus groups were conducted with rural communities.

This article analyzes approaches to addressing power differences and inequities across the MSFs and, specifically, the obstacles and opportunities for actors from marginalized groups (indigenous people, peasants, women) to voice their concerns and to influence the forums’ agenda and outcomes.