The need to respond to the threat of climate change has become an important international policy concern. Because the forest sector accounts for approximately 1/5 of the total green house gas (GHG) emissions, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of Forests (REDD) has become an increasingly important issue in global climate talks. Although a global REDD agreement is still being discussed, several voluntary micro REDD initiatives, on various national levels, are under development and/or being implemented in developing countries. Reducing emissions from the forestry sector is considered to be the most important and cost-efficient short term approach to climate change.
The Government of Norway established the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) in 2007, to support the establishment of an effective incentive structure for REDD. Currently, NOK 3 billion has been pledged to support developing countries initiatives on REDD. The motivation of this thesis is to investigate the following questions; how should Norway`s contribution to the preservation of the rainforest be shaped, and which requirements should be considered essential in receiver countries for such initiatives to function long term?
NCFI has pledged one billion dollars to the Brazilian REDD initiative – the Amazon Fund – which aims to preserve the Amazon Rainforest through supporting sustainable sub-national projects. As the Brazilian initiative on REDD is at an early implementation stage, and due to the Amazon Fund`s lack of transparency and continuous bottlenecks, several challenges must be solved before the initiative can be considered an ultimate success. However, Brazil has achieved results on REDD, not only due to the government’s policy initiatives on REDD, but also due to micro- and macroeconomic factors, which have influenced the country`s demand and supply of forest products.
In 2009, Professor Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, as recognition of her analysis of economic governance, especially for Common-Pool Resources (CPR), also known as common property resources. Forest resources are considered CPR`s, because they can be characterized by subtractability (i.e. one persons consumption of the resource reduces the availability to others) and the difficulty of demarcating boundaries (i.e. indicating the difficulty of exclusion). These characteristics create CPR-dilemmas which can only be solved by restricting access and creating incentives, such as user specific rights to a CPR. Ostrom identified a necessary central core of trust and reciprocity among community members to be associated with the likelihood of successful collective action. This thesis consider Ostrom`s insights to be vital for understanding the importance of bottom-up policies to achieve successful forest management, and hence an effective and efficient REDD initiative in Brazil. Based on her main findings from a number of case-studies on CPR management, Ostrom has proposed eight guiding principles for successful and long-enduring CPR management.
In this thesis, I have applied Ostrom`s bottom-up approach to evaluate the effect of the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative in the case of Brazil. How far has the wagon of salvation come? By using the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest as a case, this thesis considers a particular geographic area that contains a set of closely related CPRs. Furthermore, it focuses on two decentralized policy approaches in Brazil; Community Forest Management (CFM) and Payment for Ecosystems (PES), in addition to the important variable of Monitoring. Implemented appropriately, these policy mechanisms are considered necessary for successful forest management, and hence a successful national REDD initiative. This thesis identifies characteristics which need to be present for such approaches to be successful. Thus, institutional arrangements that establish local user’s rulemaking autonomy, stimulate the flow of financial and institutional assistance for monitoring, and enforce local rules and forest preservation, in addition to safeguard the communities and their institutions from powerful, and at times corrupt, actors and agencies involved in forest exploitation, represent the main conditions needed for successful CFM. PES`s are intended to serve as economic incentives for local communities` sustainable use of forest lands. However, as emphasized in this thesis, PES`s are connected to property rights which pose several challenges to the success of such initiatives, due to the skewed Brazilian land distribution.
In summary, the Norwegian contribution to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest is mainly financial through its contribution to the Amazon Fund. Moreover, although the Norwegian initiative is considered to indirectly influence policies for sustainable development in Brazil, the commitment of one billion dollars will help speeding up the wagon of salvation in Brazil. However, REDD initiatives at multiple levels, representing a bottom-up approach, are considered an important component of the fuel needed to help speed up the wagon. There are several challenges for the long term results and efficiency of NCFI in Brazil. However, the main challenges for whether the communities can benefit from approaches such as CFM initiatives and PES programs depend by large on the resolution of land tenure problems and user rights. Furthermore, both NCFI and the Amazon Fund should consider Ostrom`s design principles for successful governance as a starting point to examine whether a group of people qualify for REDD initiatives, and must continue to act according to no one-size-fits-all policy. Not surprisingly, substantial political will – with a nested sustainable social, economic and environmental policy – is considered essential for forests being worth more standing than cut in Brazil, as well as in the rest of the world.