3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by David on March 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    MJ, your analysis is spot on, but I find myself confused as to the attribution of challenges to donor agency. REDD is seriously hard, because embedded in it are requirements of high levels of political will to tackle the problem seriously. Hence, it has not necessarily moved forward, except in countries that have achieved a very high-level commitment to doing something about it.

    I’m not clear where it follows from this that REDD’s success or failure is because donors have projectized it. Donor efforts may not have affected REDD greatly at the margins, due to an unwillingness to work on the challenge as an issue of building political coalitions and aligning incentives of powerful actors, rather than just providing small technical expertise – I don’t know enough about its details to comment.

    You include a strong criticism of projectization, particularly where those projects emphasize technical assistance for a small and discrete problem that is not well linked into a broader expectation for how change will happen at national scope. Donors may well have therefore wasted much of their effort, working on MRV and social justice in a way that didn’t contribute to building political will. But I remain unconvinced that success or failure of REDD is much determined by donor action. The critique of donors would be more constructive if it didn’t have a sense of “if only they had done differently, everything would be different.” That broader criticism seems to belong more to the political leadership and institutions of countries where REDD has not gotten necessary higher level support, as well as of the global leadership that failed to create a market for carbon credit trading.

    Just because “we” (aid industry/donors & NGOs) are working on the problem doesn’t mean that its solution is within our power to achieve. We’re more the right winger or perhaps the nutritionist of the football team than its manager, to use that analogy. Still,you outline what would be an interesting research study – comparative case studies of how donor projects did or didn’t contribute to political will for real commitment to REDD reforms in different countries; there is probably lots of useful learning from it. Might help us get our tactics better next time (say, hitting a few more early crosses against a weaker team, or sorting out our role in the zonal marking against a tougher team).


  2. David you raise some very valid points. Of course donors cannot be held responsible for lack of political interest in recipient countries. Indeed some may even suggest that a certain level of donor investment might be required to generate the political interest. However, I do think REDD is a prime case of strategic focus being obscured by some easy-to-fund displacement activities. The donors have chosen to fund this. Once again they find themselves in something or a mire because they find it so difficult to resist giving money to such things.

    The illusion of progress this approach gives can be damaging. Especially if donor fatigue sets in and promising projects are canned with the rest because the overall portfolio performance is so bad.

    Overall I would agree: a few more early crosses to tempt the big name striker are probably required. If s/he doesn’t take the bait then punt them in the direction of another striker/country. In the meantime, though, do not forget your defence (base) just because the attack is a bit feeble: a few 0-0 draws can be just the ticket to avoid relegation. Now time to blow the whistle on that particular analogy, I think!


  3. […] REDD initiative appears to be the complete opposite of the lack of progress elsewhere, I recently blogged about. Instead REDD in Guyana, and Norwegian support for it seems to have been initiated out of […]


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