REDD+ in Indonesia: A new mode of governance or just another project?

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Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), was adopted in Indonesia with an ambitious vision to promote a new mode of governance for Indonesia's forest, replacing a mode of ‘projectification’. Projectification, as described by Li (2016), is understood as a process through which plans for systematic long-term change collapse into incremental, simplified technical solutions. These proposals often fail to address complex socio-economic problems and political-economic contexts, allowing large-scale deforestation drivers to persist. We analyze whether Indonesia is on track toward transformational change or is conversely locked into projectification. We construct our analysis using results from a long-term study comprising surveys in 2012, 2015, and 2019 analyzing the evolving role of REDD+ in Indonesian forest governance. Combining qualitative and quantitative analysis, we examine changes in (i) discursive practices and policy beliefs; (ii) institutions and power relations; and (iii) informal networking relationships. Our findings show that despite high hopes and some promising developments, REDD+ has not yet fully succeeded in creating transformational change. Ideas of REDD+ remain focused on efficiency and technical aspects of implementation and do not question business as usual and the current political economic conditions favoring deforestation. The changing structure of the REDD+ policy network and exchanges between actors and groups over time suggest government actors and large funding organizations are becoming increasingly dominant, potentially indicating a return to established patterns of project-based governance.

DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2020.102316
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