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Building the Forest-Climate Bandwagon: REDD+ and the Logic of Problem Amelioration


  • Constance L. McDermott

    (Constance McDermott is a James Martin Senior Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. Her recent work has been published in the Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, International Forestry Review and Review of European Community and International Environmental Law (RECIEL). Her book (with Benjamin Cashore and Peter Kanowski), Global Environmental Forest Policies (2010), reviews forest practices regulations across developed, developing and emerging economies.)

  • Kelly Levin

    (Kelly Levin is a Senior Associate in the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC. She is the Research Director of the World Resources Report. She holds a PhD from Yale University. Her recent work has been published in the International Forestry Review and the Wake Forest Law Review.)

  • Benjamin Cashore

    (Benjamin Cashore is Professor of Environmental Governance and Political Science at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the Director of the Yale Program on Forest Policy and Governance. His book, Governing Through Markets: Forest Certification and the Emergence of Nonstate Authority (2004) was awarded the International Studies Association's 2005 Sprout prize for the best book on international environmental policy and politics. He has published in numerous journals including: the American Journal of Political Science; Global Environmental Politics; Governance; Regulation and Governance; and the Canadian Journal of Political Science. His latest book (with Constance McDermott and Peter Kanowski), Global Environmental Forest Policies (2010), reviews forest practices regulations across developed, developing and emerging economies.)


For those championing an international institutional solution to climate change, the forest-climate linkage through reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and forest enhancement (REDD+) may be one of the most promising strategic linkages to date. Following a series of forest-focused interventions that did not live up to their promise, global forest politics have now, through REDD+ deliberations, been institutionally subsumed into the climate regime. We argue that to realize its potential, REDD+ policy mechanisms must be careful to move away from the commodification of forest stewardship that reinforces short-term strategic positions of powerful producing and consuming interests whose current activities are the culprits of global forest decline. To achieve such an outcome, we argue that institutions must develop on the basis of a “logic of problem amelioration” in which the rationale for achieving clearly defined environmental and social goals is rendered transparent. This could be achieved through the formalization of a “dual effectiveness test” in which interventions are evaluated for their potential to simultaneously ameliorate both global climate change and forest degradation. © 2011 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Constance L. McDermott & Kelly Levin & Benjamin Cashore, 2011. "Building the Forest-Climate Bandwagon: REDD+ and the Logic of Problem Amelioration," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 11(3), pages 85-103, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:glenvp:v:11:y:2011:i:3:p:85-103

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    Cited by:

    1. George A. Gonzalez, 2016. "Transforming Energy: Solving Climate Change with Technology Policy . New York : Cambridge University Press . 360 pages. ISBN 9781107614970, $29.99 paperback. Anthony Patt , 2015 ," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 33(1), pages 111-113, January.
    2. Vijge, Marjanneke J., 2015. "Competing discourses on REDD+: Global debates versus the first Indian REDD+ project," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 38-47.
    3. repec:spr:ieaple:v:17:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10784-016-9335-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Eero Palmujoki & Pekka Virtanen, 2016. "Global, National, or Market? Emerging REDD+ Governance Practices in Mozambique and Tanzania," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 16(1), pages 59-78, February.
    5. Nielsen, Tobias Dan, 2016. "From REDD+ forests to green landscapes? Analyzing the emerging integrated landscape approach discourse in the UNFCCC," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 177-184.
    6. Tobias Nielsen, 2014. "The role of discourses in governing forests to combat climate change," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 265-280, September.

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