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Seeing the forest for the trees : Identifying discursive convergence and dominance in complex redd+ governance

Zelli, Fariborz LU ; Nielsen, Tobias D. LU and Dubber, Wilhelm LU (2019) In Ecology and Society 24(1).
Abstract

Scholars of international law and international relations largely agree that global governance today, and global environmental governance in particular, is marked by institutional complexity. Environmental policy fields are, to varying degrees, governed by a plurality of institutions with different levels of legalization, membership, and jurisdictional scope, and with different degrees of coherence among them. The international governance architecture on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is a case in point. Located at the intersection of the governance systems on climate change, biodiversity, forestry, and development, REDD+ governance provides a stage where a large variety of intergovernmental and... (More)

Scholars of international law and international relations largely agree that global governance today, and global environmental governance in particular, is marked by institutional complexity. Environmental policy fields are, to varying degrees, governed by a plurality of institutions with different levels of legalization, membership, and jurisdictional scope, and with different degrees of coherence among them. The international governance architecture on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is a case in point. Located at the intersection of the governance systems on climate change, biodiversity, forestry, and development, REDD+ governance provides a stage where a large variety of intergovernmental and transnational institutions come together, collaborate, or compete on questions of standard-setting, financing, implementation, and evaluation. This complexity poses challenges to the effectiveness of REDD+ governance in general, but also to specific actor groups and organizations that lack the resources to understand and navigate such a fragmented governance landscape. Against this backdrop, we introduce an analytical framework to read and structure a complex governance architecture. The framework breaks new ground by adopting argumentative discourse analysis and the concept of storylines to the study of institutional complexity. We argue that beyond the messy surface of institutional complexity there may be a surprising degree of convergence, in the sense of discursive hierarchies that run across institutions, practices, and scales. We illustrate such a cross-cutting hierarchy for the complex REDD+ governance system, focusing on the sensitive issue of forest carbon monitoring. In our analysis of respective guidance documents and country reports, we find, underneath the institutional complexity across governance scales, a considerable dominance of techno-managerial perspectives and a preference for carbon commodification. This discursive hegemony and convergence resonates with the dominance of certain REDD+ funding institutions and the prioritization of the monitoring practice of remote sensing.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Discourse analysis, Institutional complexity, Institutional fragmentation, Monitoring, MRV, National forest inventory, REDD+, Regime complex, Remote sensing, Safeguards
in
Ecology and Society
volume
24
issue
1
article number
10
publisher
The Resilience Alliance
external identifiers
  • scopus:85065815626
ISSN
1708-3087
DOI
10.5751/ES-10632-240110
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
05a379d4-4d9e-4d38-a90b-cf15e2884abd
date added to LUP
2019-06-14 12:33:40
date last changed
2020-01-13 02:01:11
@article{05a379d4-4d9e-4d38-a90b-cf15e2884abd,
  abstract     = {<p>Scholars of international law and international relations largely agree that global governance today, and global environmental governance in particular, is marked by institutional complexity. Environmental policy fields are, to varying degrees, governed by a plurality of institutions with different levels of legalization, membership, and jurisdictional scope, and with different degrees of coherence among them. The international governance architecture on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is a case in point. Located at the intersection of the governance systems on climate change, biodiversity, forestry, and development, REDD+ governance provides a stage where a large variety of intergovernmental and transnational institutions come together, collaborate, or compete on questions of standard-setting, financing, implementation, and evaluation. This complexity poses challenges to the effectiveness of REDD+ governance in general, but also to specific actor groups and organizations that lack the resources to understand and navigate such a fragmented governance landscape. Against this backdrop, we introduce an analytical framework to read and structure a complex governance architecture. The framework breaks new ground by adopting argumentative discourse analysis and the concept of storylines to the study of institutional complexity. We argue that beyond the messy surface of institutional complexity there may be a surprising degree of convergence, in the sense of discursive hierarchies that run across institutions, practices, and scales. We illustrate such a cross-cutting hierarchy for the complex REDD+ governance system, focusing on the sensitive issue of forest carbon monitoring. In our analysis of respective guidance documents and country reports, we find, underneath the institutional complexity across governance scales, a considerable dominance of techno-managerial perspectives and a preference for carbon commodification. This discursive hegemony and convergence resonates with the dominance of certain REDD+ funding institutions and the prioritization of the monitoring practice of remote sensing.</p>},
  author       = {Zelli, Fariborz and Nielsen, Tobias D. and Dubber, Wilhelm},
  issn         = {1708-3087},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {The Resilience Alliance},
  series       = {Ecology and Society},
  title        = {Seeing the forest for the trees : Identifying discursive convergence and dominance in complex redd+ governance},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10632-240110},
  doi          = {10.5751/ES-10632-240110},
  volume       = {24},
  year         = {2019},
}