"Experimental" or business as usual? Implementing the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) voluntary partnership agreement in Ghana
Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift › Tidsskriftartikel › Forskning › fagfællebedømt
In this paper, we challenge recent positive assessments made of the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), through a case study of their implementation in Ghana. We do this through a review of the rich literature on forest governance in Ghana and the results of 160 semi-structured interviews with relevant actors in the country. While we agree that the VPA has helped establish new fora for dialogue in the forest sector in Ghana, we argue that it has not fundamentally changed the existing forest governance regime. Specifically, the VPA implementation has not changed tree tenure and benefit sharing practices, and by extension, the forestry concession system that for over 8 decades has failed to secure forest sustainability and social equity. The changes introduced through the VPA implementation – the Timber Legality Assurance System, updated forest management plans, and an artisanal milling strategy, largely represent technical fixes to deeply political processes that have long upheld unsustainable practices. Other changes such as enhanced enforcement of Social Responsibility Agreements and more transparent allocations of timber rights are improvements, but they do not fundamentally change the tenure and benefit sharing arrangement, which by any standard is inequitable. Our evidence particularly contradicts Overdevest and Zeitlin's (2016, 2018) depiction of the country's VPA experience as an emerging ‘experimentalist’ forest governance entailing substantive dialogue, recursive problem-solving, and policy learning. At the contrary, and paradoxically, we argue that the VPA implementation in Ghana serves to stabilize and reproduce the very forest governance regime that it set out to reform– a process that is much less ‘experimental’, and much more business as usual.
|Tidsskrift||Forest Policy and Economics|
|Status||Udgivet - 2018|