Desmond McNeill: Norway and REDD+ in Indonesia: The Art of Not Governing?

Forum for Development Studies, Volume 42, Issue 1, 2015


This article examines the dilemmas that Norway faces in seeking to secure good governance while minimising its role as a political actor. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in developing countries) is a global programme which seeks to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands. The ambitions and expectations of REDD+ are enormous, and it may be that these will never be successfully achieved. The first phase is so-called REDD-readiness which involves preparing REDD+ countries to implement the proposed programme. It is already clear that the governance challenges are daunting, at every level: global, national and local. Norway is playing a major role in REDD+, having pledged 0.5 billion US dollars per year to the programme. It has committed 1 billion US dollars to Indonesia alone, and there can be no doubt that it is now seen as a very important actor in the forest sector in that country. But Norway wields its power reluctantly and has adopted what it calls a ‘light touch’. While some commentators have questioned the efficacy of this approach, many in Indonesia apparently regard Norway as having taken an unduly active role. This article discusses whether REDD+ should be treated as aid, with conditions attached; sets out the options facing Norway; analyses the content of the Letter of Intent between the two countries and assesses Norway's actions: Do they govern too much or too little?

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Published Apr. 10, 2015 1:14 PM - Last modified Apr. 10, 2015 1:16 PM