REDD+ policy making in Nepal: toward state-centric, polycentric, or market-oriented governance?
Over the past 40 years, Nepal has become renowned for its community-based forestry policies, initiatives, and institutions, characterized by local autonomy in decisions about forest management and use and a gradual shift toward more inclusive national policy processes. In recent years, the government, international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), donors, and some civil society organizations have instigated policy and piloting initiatives for an international climate change mitigation scheme known as “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries” (REDD+). Although many people see REDD+ as a means of bolstering forest conservation efforts and enhancing rural livelihoods, its broader implications for decentralized forest governance in Nepal and elsewhere remain uncertain and contested. Using policy network analysis and theories of polycentric and network governance, the author examined influence, inclusiveness, and deliberation among actors involved in REDD+ policy making in Nepal. Data were collected between June and December 2011 through a survey of 34 organizations from government, civil society, educational and research institutions, international NGOs and donors, and the private sector. The author investigated whether policy processes and the configurations of actors involved reflect state-centric, market-oriented, or polycentric governance, and discusses the implications for decentralized forest governance in general and for the implementation of REDD+ in particular. Results indicate that REDD+ policy making is dominated by a “development triangle”, a tripartite coalition of key government actors, external organizations (international NGOs and donors), and select civil society organizations. As a result, the views and interests of other important stakeholders have been marginalized, threatening recentralized forest governance and hampering the effective implementation of REDD+ in Nepal.