Mani Ram Banjade – Can authority change through deliberative politics?

Based on the review of relevant literature, this paper investigates how forest authority is produced or reproduced in the course of forest policy change, by drawing on the past four decades of participatory forest policy reform in Nepal. We analyze various waves of deliberative politics that emerged in different contexts related to the Himalayan crisis, the flow of international aid for conservation and development projects, civil conflict and democratic transition, and most recently the policy responses to climate change. The analysis shows how such deliberative politics contributed to the change or continuity of conventional authorities around forest policy and practice. It shows that despite notable participatory policy reform, the conventional authority has become further re-entrenched. Based on this analysis, we argue that efforts to understand forest policy change can be more meaningful if attention is paid to whether and how deliberative politics emerge to challenge the hegemonic claims to power and knowledge about resource governance practices. Such approach to policy analysis can open new possibilities for understanding democratic policy reform by explicating the nuances of deliberation and policy politics occurring at multiple scales.

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