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Title: Translating climate change policy : the case of REDD+ in Ghana
Author: Arhin, Albert Abraham
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 5467
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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The policy of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) has been promoted at the global level as an innovative approach to reduce forest loss that contributes to about one-fifth of global climate change. My dissertation brings together theories of policy processes and political ecology to examine REDD+ at three levels: global, national and local. It focuses on how this global climate policy is translated from one geographical scale to another and from policy into practice. The analysis of how REDD+ is transformed through this process provides insights into the extent to which REDD+ is likely to achieve its aims of reducing forest loss and mitigating global climate change. The national and local cases are drawn from Ghana, West Africa. The study is mainly qualitative, and employs semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, oral histories, participatory activities, and document analysis, as methodologies. At the global scale, I explore how REDD+ became a global climate policy and the range of global expectations that supported its rise to prominence. I argue that REDD+ became prominent because of three main strategies employed by its proponents: first, the re-introduction of the role of forest-sector emissions to climate change negotiations; second, the setting-up of financial schemes to attract and mobilise support for REDD+; and third, the establishment of safeguards mechanisms to address criticisms raised by stakeholders that opposed REDD+. At the national level, I examine how the policy processes related to REDD+ were translated from the global scale to the national context of Ghana. I critically examine the narratives around how deforestation was understood and the range of actions that were subsequently identified as options for achieving REDD+ outcomes. I show that REDD+ has created opportunities for promising reforms and structures on forest management in Ghana; yet it is unlikely to achieve its intended objectives because of (i) problems with the way the narrative has framed the causes of deforestation; (ii) a failure to fully address long-standing problems with tenure and benefit-sharing frameworks; and (iii) the centralisation of revenue generation that is limiting local-level implementation of plans. At the local levels, I focus on how two REDD+ pilot projects were unfolding. Similar to the national level, my analysis reveals that the projects have employed questionable narratives about the ways deforestation is produced in both cases. In addition, the solutions designed to address deforestation were found to contain misplaced assumptions that undermine the prospects of both projects to achieve their intended objectives. The research highlights the messy processes of translation of global climate policies such as REDD+ as they move from one scale to another, and from policy to practice. The study contributes to understanding how problematic narratives, misguided assumptions, and diverse interests, create gaps between the policy ideas and their implementation as global climate policy is translated from one geographical scale to another.
Supervisor: Watson, Elizabeth Sponsor: Gates Cambridge Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: REDD+ ; Climate Change ; Ghana ; Forest Policy ; policy translation ; political ecology ; natural resource management ; climate mitigation ; carbon emissions ; policy process theories