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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 426-438

Climbing the Ladder of Participation: Symbolic or Substantive Representation in Preparing Uganda for REDD+?

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya

Correspondence Address:
Robert Mbeche
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_16_100

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The United Nations (UN) and World Bank programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Deforestation (REDD) plus improving forest governance (REDD+) promotes carbon-emission reductions and sustainable forest management. The World Bank and the UN require developing countries to prepare for REDD+ via a consultation process with input from indigenous and forest-dependent peoples. This article focuses on stakeholder consultations carried out under the Ugandan REDD+ preparation process, examining whether these fulfill the conditions necessary for substantive local democratic representation. The article shows that even though REDD+ claims to be democratic and participatory, the Uganda program allows the input of only a few selected stakeholders – mainly the government actors and a limited number of NGOs. Further, despite claiming to be democratic and participatory, the program privileges REDD+'s programmatic goals over democratic procedures. In this context, the REDD+ consultations serve largely to—1) 'educate' the participants to secure their support in implementing the 'technical' aspects of the programme, 2) help the government to legitimise its REDD+ strategy; and 3) speed up the implementation of the REDD+ programme despite the lack of substantive representation.

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