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Good Governance: What Can We Learn from the Forest Sector?

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Brown, David; Schreckenberg, K.; Shepherd, Gill; Wells, Adrian
Date: 2003
Agency: Overseas Development Institute, London
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4869
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Subject(s): participatory development
community forestry
governance and politics
Abstract: "Achieving good governance dominates today's development agenda. But what does this mean in practice? This paper examines some of the key elements of good governance, including transparent and equitable relationships between stakeholders, public accountability and participatory decision-making. It takes as an example the forest sector, which has made surprising gains in its application of good governance ideas. Forestry's inclusive focus, linking the global to the national and local; the centrality of issues of tenure and collective rights; and its importance in rural livelihoods, all reinforce the linkages between good governance, public accountability and poverty alleviation. The impact of improving governance is evident at several levels: decentralization has changed the balance of power and decisionmaking between central government and the periphery; relationships between government and civil society have benefited as donor-promoted participation has created significant space for civil society voices to be heard; and new models are being developed for relationships within civil society and particularly within communities. Forestry's experience shows that both `bottom up' and `top down' pressures may be needed to build public accountability. The transfer of rights over resources is important for turning `participation' into citizenship. Forestry offers experience with a wide variety of pro-poor growth strategies, and the legal, institutional and policy reforms necessary to secure these. Pro-poor regulatory reform is a challenging but essential aspect of better governance in the forest sector, for instance. Similarly, the national resolution of conflicts related to international policies is essential including, for example, debates about whether forest conservation can best be achieved through the protection or sustainable use routes."

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