The Journey of Forest Governance
When I started working on forest governance issues, back in the late 1990s, you could talk about governance and corruption issues only in hushed tones. Since then, through a series of global efforts, we have progressed to a point where the state of forest governance can be openly debated at public conferences. Lack of good governance is now seen as a core development issue. More recently we have begun to measure the quality of forest governance by blending factual and perception-based information, gathered through multi-stakeholder consultations.
To assist in practical measurement, PROFOR has recently produced a publication, “Assessing and Monitoring Forest Governance: A user’s guide to a diagnostic tool” (Download PDF). This forest governance measurement approach has already been tested in Burkina Faso, Uganda and Russia, where it proved to be a flexible and relatively inexpensive method to trigger candid discussions and build momentum for reform.
A continous process
In this context, take a look at another recent publication, “Moving Forward with Forest Governance” (ETFRN News #53), a terrific compendium of articles on forest governance spanning theory and concepts, to field application, measurement and reforms. A quote from the editors of this volume is telling:
The role of monitoring in governance is not only to track actual achievements, but also to create a learning dialogue among governance actors as a normal part of their institutional and participatory relationships. Thus, forest governance monitoring is also a process of continuous learning that is essential to governance.
Section 2 of the volume, which focuses on monitoring and transparency, includes a succinct description of the forest governance monitoring framework, developed with support from PROFOR and FAO, and summarizes early experiences with the measurement of forest governance in several countries, using the PROFOR-FAO framework as scaffolding.
Going forward, PROFOR expects to extend application to a host of other countries including those which have embarked on sustainable forest management reform under the auspices of REDD+ and FIP programs. In addition, PROFOR, in partnership with FAO, is initiating the production of an authoritative sourcebook on global best practices for governance data collection. This will boost our efforts to collaborate within the community of practitioners involved in data collection and indicator development.
From the vantage point of where I sit, I see these developments as hugely promising and I am tremendously excited by them. I feel that we are finally on the cusp of a breakthrough in tackling the extremely knotty governance and political economy challenges for the sector. This augurs well for future efforts, by the Bank and other development institutions, to promote sustainable management of forests. I invite you to join in and help add to the momentum for change. Take a look at PROFOR’s Users Guide, please put it to the test if an opportunity arises in your own work or that of your colleagues, and do send us your feedback and suggestions for improvement.