Lessons for REDD+ from Cameroon’s past forestry law reform: a political economy analysis
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing forest carbon stocks (REDD+) is gaining traction in Cameroon. However, given the deep-rooted trans-sectoral drivers of forest loss, enforcing REDD+ policies will require major policy change and reform both within and beyond the forestry sector. In this paper, the authors view the REDD+ policy arena in Cameroon within a political economy framework and conduct policy network analysis to explore the factors that will enable or hinder efforts to implement the broad policy change required to realize REDD+. As the REDD+ context is shaped by the history of Cameroon’s forestry sector, lessons are drawn for REDD+ from the forestry law reform undertaken in 1994. The authors focus their analysis on three factors considered necessary for REDD+ success: (i) autonomy of the nation state from interests behind deforestation and forest degradation, (ii) national ownership over reform processes, and (iii) inclusiveness of policy processes. The findings are that the REDD+ policy process in Cameroon is repeating the weaknesses of the earlier forestry law reform, as seen in the minimal ownership of REDD+ by national actor groups and low inclusiveness among domestic actors at both national and local levels, as well as the absence of a national coalition for REDD+. Furthermore, politics and private agendas are compromising state agencies’ autonomy in making decisions about forest resources. The findings suggest that responses to these weaknesses, as well as to inconsistencies between sectoral policies and to competition over forest resources, will determine whether REDD+ can induce change within and beyond Cameroon’s forestry sector.