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Knowledge and brokerage in REDD+ policy making
A Policy networks analysis of the case of TanzaniaHarvard University
As various countries are preparing their national REDD+ strategies, balancing different types of knowledge and interests for legitimate and effective policies has become a primary, pressing challenge. Knowledge and discourses on REDD+ are deliberated in political bargaining processes between various actors involved in the policy domain that differ in their resources and capacity to influence outcomes. Using Tanzania as a country case, this study assesses the relative influence of deliberation and knowledge brokerage on the dynamics of the REDD+ policy process and its outputs vis-à-vis institutional structures and power relations between the involved policy actors. It is proposed that the more public and politicized the policy process, the less the discursive dimension may be ignored and the more there is to gain for discourse coalitions with wide bases of legitimacy among policy actors with varying power resources and institutionalized opportunities for policy influence. A structured survey and semi-structured in-depth interviews were carried out with sixty-four organizational actors involved in the Tanzanian REDD+ domain between March and September 2011. Social Network Analysis techniques were applied to analyze the quantitative survey data, complemented by a qualitative content analysis of the actors’ discourse and strategies related to the national REDD+ policy. The results suggest that through sustained public efforts, actors engaged in so-called protest events parallel to the formal government-led process have influenced the course of the policy process and to an extent, at the early formulation stage, policy content. Successful coalitions include brokers that occupy strategic positions in networks of information and resources, and have the capacity to enhance information flow and promote closure of REDD+ discourse on the appropriate policy proposals. Brokers that are characterized by discourses based on legitimized knowledge and ties to central policy actors have the greatest potential to enhance information flow and deliberation the policy process and outcomes. In the Tanzania case, there is considerable overlap between brokers and central actors, and the key brokers may be considered members of discourse coalitions rather than discursively neutral actors. Nevertheless, the influence of actors and coalitions that appear successful in the early stages of the policy process will be filtered by the institutional context applying to the formal decision making stages, and by shifting national and international political commitments to climate change mitigation and REDD+.