Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is receiving increasing political and scientific attention as a climate change mitigation approach. The government of Cameroon has expressed an interest in participating in REDD+, and national deliberation on a policy strategy has attracted interest from different actors in the forest sector. This paper analyses the challenges of designing a governance structure for a REDD+ strategy in Cameroon. Theoretically, the paper builds on the literature on governance structures for resource management, focusing analytically on the interactions between actor constellations (state and non-state) and institutions (formal and informal) to produce policy outcomes. The paper draws on documentation of REDD+ policy events, policy texts and 23 in-depth interviews with members from government, civil society, research organizations, development partners and the private sector. It argues that although the actors involved in REDD+ are, to an extent, polarized around different issues and priorities, they are nonetheless increasingly distributing roles and responsibilities among themselves. The institutional arrangements within the policy process include: (1) rule-making systems for engagement; (2) expanding existing coordination mechanisms; (3) national safeguard standards; and (4) building on existing forest governance initiatives. The paper concludes that the multiple benefits promised by REDD+, such as poverty alleviation, biodiversity conservation and economic development, are critical for the legitimacy of the mechanism.