Study reveals progress and gaps for civil society in VPA and REDD+ processes

Civil society groups are increasingly participating in national policy processes related to forest governance in Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and the Republic of the Congo, according to a new study.

by FAO

However, the study says participation has not been institutionalised and overall it is inconsistent. It identifies barriers to participation and recommends ways to remove them.

The research was undertaken by Poshendra Satyal, a senior research associate in the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia, UK.

Satyal focused on participation in REDD+ and FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) processes, and notes that the former have not adopted many of the best practices and lessons from the latter.

He says VPA processes are more accommodating towards civil society organisations, in part because they are designed to be inclusive and participatory from the start.

This facet of VPA design also builds the capacity of civil society organisations for continued participation, says Satyal, as although VPAs are technical, civil society groups learn much by participating from the start of the process.

However, other capacity gaps remain in areas such as organisational leadership and management, communication and knowledge on forest governance, REDD+ and FLEGT.

Satyal also notes challenges related to how well civil society platforms include relevant stakeholders and how well the appointed delegates represent their constituencies.

“It is important that participatory spaces and platforms are not only consolidated but transparent,” he writes, “[and that] structures are not only well functioning but also inclusive and accountable so that they are open to accommodate a diversity of voices.”

Satyal concludes that the degree of collaboration between governments and civil society organisations in the four countries he studied “is generally quite poor and needs strengthening.”

He recommends addressing gaps in information sharing, synchronising participation and policy processes, increasing support to support to civil society groups and their platforms, building trust among stakeholders, focusing on vulnerable groups and strengthening links between local, national and global scales.

Download the full study [PDF]

Source: Satyal, P. (2017) Assessing Civil Society Participation in REDD+ and FLEGT: Case Study Analysis of Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and the Republic of Congo, DEV Reports and Policy Paper Series, The School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK.