Can multilevel governance transform business-as-usual trajectories driving deforestation? Lessons for REDD+ and beyond

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Key messages

  • REDD+ is an inherently multilevel process that requires attention across diverse levels and sectors of governance to bring about change on the ground.
  • REDD+ strategies often focus on direct drivers of deforestation (and local actors). Effectively addressing the underlying causes likely requires challenging more powerful actors and development trajectories.
  • Despite tensions over roles and responsibilities, subnational governments are engaging in important land-use debates and local decision making as new opportunities and innovations in multilevel governance emerge.
  • Top-down solutions need to meet bottom-up realities with greater accountability, for example, by recognizing indigenous peoples and local communities as substantive rights-holders.
  • Coordination across levels and sectors cannot always be achieved through negotiation: REDD+ and similar initiatives must go beyond technical criteria, engage with politics and support social movements to strengthen transformative coalitions.


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