This occasional paper presents a new approach to examining how multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs) on land use and land-use change address equity. Based on a review of cases in the scholarly literature, we engage with MSFs from two key characteristics: the degree to which an MSF includes local peoples as part of a forest-landscape solution (its intensity), and the degree to which an MSF and/or its goals or objectives are embedded or entangled in wider societal or governmental programs and processes (its embeddedness).
Multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs) have been positioned as a transformative solution for more sustainable decision making in forestry, land use, and climate change interventions. Yet, we propose that an MSF’s resilience and potential to promote equity is impeded if local peoples are not regarded as key partners rather than ‘beneficiaries’, and if the forum and/or its outcomes are not meaningfully institutionalized.
Intensity and embeddedness are useful analytical tools that go beyond typologies that identify characteristics found in successful MSFs. They are helpful in terms of explaining how different approaches across different contexts function and add nuance to simplified dichotomies. The analytical application of intensity and embeddedness to the analysis of MSFs permits new insights as they describe cases and explain how they differ in terms of equity.