Advocacy coalitions, REDD+, and forest governance in Papua New Guinea: how likely is transformational change?
Tropical forests in developing countries are increasingly being valued for their role in carbon sequestration. Such interest is reflected in the emergence of international initiatives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). REDD+ requires addressing both tropical forests as complex social-ecological systems and the multiple sectors involved in tropical forest resources, which may necessitate transformational change away from business-as-usual approaches to forest governance. The authors studied the potential for REDD+ to mobilize an influential coalition of actors promoting transformational change in forest governance in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a leading proponent of REDD+ internationally. Combining policy network approaches with the advocacy coalition framework, the authors identified four advocacy coalitions in the REDD+ policy domain in PNG and estimated the influence of each coalition. They found the most influential advocacy coalition is promoting the status quo rather than governance reforms capable of reducing deforestation and forest degradation, leading them to suggest that business as usual is the dominant perspective in the REDD+
policy domain in PNG. This may explain why, despite the large amount of REDD+ rhetoric, there has been only modest change in formal policy or practice in PNG to date. However, they did find influential coalitions calling for transformational change. Although these are currently minority coalitions, several pathways were identified through which they could increase their power to realize transformational change.