IUFROLAT III Session Highlights: International Forest Governance

International forest governance and its influence on the convergence of forest policy in Latin America

For more information on the IUFRO Task Force on International Forest Governance, visit: http://www.iufro.org/science/task-forces/intl-forest-governance/

Globally, great strides have been made in the last 20 years as to what constitutes responsible forest governance. Yet, frustrations exist at the scale and pace of change. In Latin America, there continues to be a notable gap between ‘rules on paper’ and ‘rules in use’ in most countries, and governance tends to remain firmly based in ‘command-and-control’ approaches established decades ago.

In the session entitled “International Forest Governance and its influence on the convergence of forest policy in Latin America”, leading scholars in this field discussed what political science can do to improve international forest governance in the region through a mix of existing and emerging environmental policy instruments.

Reported cases of “carbon cowboys” deriving indigenous communities from intended benefits from REDD+ have created mistrust and infighting and have raised questions about the usefulness of market-based approaches to environmental problems such as climate change. Yet, the political scientists concluded that – if well designed – market-based instruments such as forest certification or payments for environmental services can help deliver effective policy outcomes. Costa Rica can be cited as a positive example on how new forms and modes of governance have successfully been incorporate into forest policy.

The session also discussed the newly emerging discourse on “rights of nature” in which nature is treated as a ‘subject’ rather than an ‘object’ in environmental legislation. While the notion of collective property rights reflected in this new approach can be seen as a more ethical approach to natural resources, it may however also be motivated by more mundane considerations, such as the intention to bargain for increased financial support from the international community.

Overall, the examples presented in the session indicated the need to incorporate new forms and modes of governance into forest and environmental policy in Latin America. If well-designed, instruments such as legality verification can help form large coalitions of actors and can trigger a “ratchet up” towards better forestry standards in the region.

Presentations in this session:

Policies for promoting sustainable forest management: Convergence of domestic policies and instrument mixes across Latin America (Kathleen McGinley, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USA)

Carbon cowboys: case studies from Peru (Wil De Jong, Kyoto University Japan)

International forest governance and the rights of nature discourse in South America (David Humphries, UK)

Adaptation of tropical forest management in climate change (Rod Keenan, University of Melbourne, Australia)

Agroforestal systems as an alternative to coca crops in the Chapare region of Bolivia (Eduardo Lopez Rosse, UMSS, Department of Natural Resources, Bolivia)

Factors driving botanical tree diversity in agroforestry systems in Central America (Jenny Ordonez)

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