REDD+ politics in the media: A case study from Nepal

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This paper analyses the understandings and actions of a diverse range of actors on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries) and the current discourse on REDD+, as reflected in the Nepali media. Articles on REDD+ and climate change from three representative newspapers were analysed and in-depth interviews and interactions with nine journalists were conducted. Our analyses show that REDD+ coverage in the Nepali media is limited because the climate change discussion is dominated by concerns over glacial melts, and journalists are reliant on professional experts in the field of forestry and REDD+ to explain the technical language used for REDD reporting. At present, REDD+ coverage is dominated by the global debate and REDD+ is understood as a win-win game operating within the current development aid framework. Media coverage tends to highlight the amount of money that will potentially come from the developed world for the conservation and management of forests in developing countries. While most stakeholders in Nepal, particularly the experts, are optimistic about REDD+ outcomes in addressing climate change mitigation and supporting local livelihoods, journalists and civil society organisations are sceptical because they doubt whether forest-dependent communities and marginalised groups will actually benefit from REDD+. Numerous stakeholders are associated with the current REDD process but few individuals within those institutions are engaged in the REDD+ discourse. The fact that the most dominant and vocal actors in the media are individual technical experts and farmer organisations/federations, followed by the state, shows that the REDD+ debate is currently seen predominantly as a complex, technical issue. More importantly, this shows that the REDD+ debate has not yet become a political focus. Vulnerable groups, such as community representatives, women and Dalit, are absent from the debate because of the technical nature of the conversation and limited forums for these groups to have their say. This shows the exclusivity of current decision-making.

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