This paper investigates the spaces for participation that have been created by readiness preparations launched in connection with the international initiative “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD+) in Colombia and Costa Rica. I analyse the emergence of these spaces and who is leading the process in each country. My findings indicate that in Costa Rica, the public sector is leading preparation activities and creating the public spaces for participation in REDD to which private actors are invited. In Colombia on the other hand, NGOs, development assistance agencies and other private actors are leading the process and the state is the invited actor. I identify four factors that determine the scope of different actors’ possibilities to participate in the REDD+ spaces. These are (a) control of key resources, (b) ideological affinity, (c) the creation and dissemination of information and knowledge, and (d) the creation of norms to validate REDD+ pilot initiatives. The separation between these factors is not clear-cut and consequently they reinforce each other at different levels. The research presented here contributes to a better understanding of the implications that national REDD+ politics may have in the future functioning of the programme.
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