Since the advent of professional forestry in the 17th century, forest monitoring has been part and parcel of forest management, and has been implemented in different forms in many European countries. The practice of forest monitoring was later exported to the European colonies, and has since been taken over and conducted by post-colonial governments in many developing countries. From an earlier focus on assessment of timber stocks, the practice has evolved to include assessments of other forest variables than timber. Despite this evolution, national forest monitoring has remained largely timber-oriented, and a closed system with little participation of actors outside the state forestry bureaucracy. However, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decision on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) has opened up new discussions on forest monitoring in developing countries. Specifically, the global discourse on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of REDD+ outcomes has introduced new ideas and demands on the scope and objectives of forest monitoring, the actors to be involved, and resources to be used. Taken together, the emergence of the REDD+ MRV discourse and associated ideas calls for change in the institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in developing countries. Furthermore, while these ideas and demands are determined and agreed upon in an international negotiation process, they need to be translated and implemented in highly diverse country-specific contexts, with country-specific actors, ideas, interests, and institutions. Translating the REDD+ MRV discourse and ideas into national institutional arrangements thus involves negotiation and contestation among national stakeholders.
This dissertation examines the performance of REDD+ MRV in terms of its implementation and institutionalization in developing countries, and the political processes by which such institutionalization occurs. Specifically, it examines (1) the institutional effectiveness of REDD+ MRV; (2) how the concept of REDD+ MRV and associated ideas have materialized in new institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in developing countries; and (3) how discursive processes of policymaking and the argumentation and contestation inherent in such processes enable or constrain institutionalization. With this, the dissertation contributes to the literature on REDD+ MRV by examining forest monitoring from a social science perspective. While current research on REDD+ MRV remains highly technical, since it is assumed that forest monitoring is a neutral, apolitical activity, this study argues that monitoring deforestation is also political, and contributes by highlighting the political contestation involved in implementing REDD+ MRV at the national level. The dissertation also contributes to scientific debates on the performance of international environment agreements at the national level, and how contestation and negotiation among domestic stakeholders enable or constrain their institutionalization at the national level.
Chapter 1 introduces the research presented in this dissertation. It provides an overview of the emergence of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+) within the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a climate mitigation strategy, and argues that the UNFCCC’s decisions on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) for REDD+ pose new ideas and demands for forest monitoring in developing countries. It elucidates the research that has been done on REDD+ MRV so far, identifies gaps in the existing literature on forest monitoring for REDD+, and delineates the objectives of the study. It discusses the theoretical basis and framework for the study, explaining how the main theoretical concept – discursive institutionalism – is combined with the Policy Arrangement Approach (PAA) to examine how REDD+ MRV has been shaped and institutionalized in new or reformed institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in developing countries, and discursive processes by which such institutionalization occurs. After presenting the conceptual framework, four research questions are outlined, namely:
1. What is the institutional effectiveness of REDD+ MRV in terms of its implementation in developing countries?
2. How have institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in Peru evolved, and how and to what extent has their evolution been shaped by international discourses on forests, especially REDD+ MRV?
3. How and to what extent has the concept of MRV become institutionalized in new or reformed institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania, and how can differences in this extent of institutionalization across the countries be explained?
4. How has discursive politics enabled or constrained institutionalization of MRV in Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania?
The chapter then describes the study’s overall research design and methodology, and ends by outlining the structure of the dissertation.
Chapter 2 examines the institutional effectiveness of REDD+ MRV. The chapter draws on regime literature to conceptualize UNFCCC and its decisions on REDD+ MRV as an international institution or regime, and outlines the technical and good governance requirements for MRV. Drawing on Young and Levy’s (1999) framework for assessing effectiveness of international institutions, and building on UNFCCC and IPCC methodological guidelines for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), and good governance literature, it develops criteria and indicators for assessing progress in implementing the identified technical and governance requirements for MRV. Three dimensions on which effectiveness of REDD+ MRV can be evaluated are developed: ‘owning technical methods for MRV’, ‘developing administrative competence’ and ‘integrating good governance’ in MRV. The framework is applied to assess and compare institutional effectiveness of REDD+ MRV in 13 REDD+ countries, based on a review of national and international documents. The Chapter shows that REDD+ countries have high to very high ownership of technical methods. However, the majority of the countries rank only low to moderate on administrative capacity and good governance. This means that although countries have started developing technical methods for MRV, they are yet to develop the competence necessary to administer MRV and to incorporate aspects of good governance in MRV. The chapter explains the scores and suggest ways of improving implementation of REDD+ MRV.
Chapter 3 examines how and to what extent global discourses and ideas on forests, especially the concept of REDD+ MRV, have shaped institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in developing countries, using the case of Peru. It draws on discursive institutionalism to conceptualize REDD+ MRV as a discourse and identify the ideas represented in the discourse. It then combines discursive institutionalism with the policy arrangement approach to craft a framework for examining the extent to which REDD+ MRV, and other global discourses, have shaped national institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in Peru. An analytical distinction is made between ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’ institutional change. The chapter identifies three distinct discourses – productivist forest philosophy, multiple-use and sustainable forest management philosophies and REDD+ MRV – that have shaped forest monitoring in Peru. The chapter shows that while all the three discourses have shaped the scope and objectives of forest monitoring, the actors involved, resources used, and rules governing forest assessments, none of them has led to ‘deep’ institutionalization of forest monitoring. On REDD+ MRV specifically, the chapter shows that it has expanded the scope and objectives of forest assessments in Peru, inspired the mobilization of new actors and resources, and spawned the development of new rules to govern forest monitoring. However, these institutional changes are not yet ‘deep’, since the new rules for forest inventories have not yet been formally adopted, and the agencies envisioned to implement forest monitoring have not been established. The chapter concludes that forest monitoring in general, and REDD+ MRV in particular, is only shallowly institutionalized in Peru.
Chapter 4 compares how and to what extent the concept of REDD+ MRV has institutionalized in Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania. To do so, the chapter draws on insights from discursive institutionalism operationalized by means of the policy arrangement approach to develop the analytical categories of ‘shallow’, ‘shallow-intermediate’, ‘deep-intermediate’ and ‘deep’ institutionalization, and uses these categories to examine the extent of institutionalization across the countries. The chapter shows that in all three countries, REDD+ MRV has institutionalized in new or revised aims, scope and strategies for forest monitoring, and the development of new agencies and mobilization of new actors and resources. New legislation to anchor forest monitoring in law, and procedures to institutionalize the roles of the various agencies, are also being developed. Nevertheless, the extent of institutionalization of MRV varies across the countries, with Indonesia experiencing ‘deep’ institutionalization, Peru ‘shallow-intermediate’, and Tanzania ‘intermediate-deep’ institutionalization. To explain the differences in institutionalization, the chapter examines the theoretical factors for discourse institutionalization and their manifestation in each country. It shows that the relatively ‘deep’ institutionalization of REDD+ MRV in Indonesia and Tanzania is due to the presence of all five factors for discourse institutionalization. Only one factor is found to be present in Peru, and the ‘shallow- intermediate’ institutionalization of REDD+ is largely due to the absence of other factors. Based on the findings and conclusions, the chapter draws lessons to inform institutionalization of MRV in other countries.
Chapter 5 examines how the discursive politics of MRV policymaking has enabled or constrained institutionalization of REDD+ MRV in Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania. To do this, it draws on the concept of discourse – understood as ideas and the interactive process of policymaking and public deliberation – to examine the actors involved in MRV policy development in the respective countries, and how the deliberation, argumentation and contestation among them (discursive politics) have enabled or constrained institutionalization. The chapter shows that in all countries, the methodologies to be used for MRV, the actors to be involved and their roles were contentious. However, it shows that in Indonesia and Tanzania, where there was a broad-based national discourse on MRV, and where policy actors agreed on the strategies to implement MRV and the role of different actors in forest monitoring, there is relatively ‘deep’ institutionalization compared to Peru, where such discourse and agreement were lacking. The chapter discusses how the discursive process facilitated institutionalization of REDD+ MRV in Indonesia and Tanzania and constrained the same in Peru. It concludes that how discursive politics is played matters in institutionalization.
Chapter 6 presents the conclusions on the study. It draws on the empirical chapters to answer the research questions, concluding that majority (60%) of the analysed countries has achieved at least a ‘moderate’ institutional effectiveness for MRV. Further, it concludes that the concept of REDD+ MRV has materialized in reformed institutional arrangements for forest monitoring in Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania, albeit to varying degrees. The chapter also concludes that forest monitoring for REDD+ is not only a technical activity, but is also political. Specifically, it concludes that decisions on what exactly is to be monitored and reported, by whom and using what methods are determined through political negotiations, and that how this political process is managed has a significant influence on how, and the extent to which, MRV is institutionalized. After drawing the conclusions, the chapter reflects on the key theoretical concepts used in the study by outlining how discursive institutionalism and the policy arrangement approach can be used to enrich one another. The chapter ends by outlining several policy recommendations. First, it recommends that while the development of new agencies to implement REDD+ MRV is necessary in some countries, care should be taken to avoid establishment of many agencies. Where possible, policy makers and donors should consider working with and strengthening existing agencies before deciding to establish new agencies. Second, it recommends that more investments be directed to organizing inclusive MRV policy coordination processes, since the politics involved in these processes determine the extent to which REDD+ MRV is institutionalized. Lastly, investments in policy coordination should be accompanied with investments in broader communicative political discourse to enlighten all REDD+ stakeholders on MRV policy processes and the strategies being proposed, while seeking the views and feedback these strategies. This is necessary if the proposed strategies are to be legitimate in the eyes of key REDD+ stakeholders.