The Program on Democracy and Environment houses four efforts
Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI)
Directors: Jesse Ribot (UIUC), James Murombedzi (CODRESIA), Ebrima Sall (CODRESIA), and Edmund Barrow (IUCN)
The Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI) is a $3 million 3-year research and training program, focusing on environmental governance in Africa. The RFGI is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and executed by the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Currently, the Initiative is being coordinated and carried out by a team of four codirectors, three postdoctoral fellows, and 34 reseachers working in 12 countries. These countries are: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
RFGI is aimed at “enabling responsive and accountable decentralization” in forestry and at strengthening the representation of forest-based rural populations in decision making. RFGI works to identify ways to enhance responsive and adaptive governance processes that reduce vulnerability, enhance wellbeing, and improve forest management. Responsive and adaptive governance will be crucial to equitable and sustainable strategies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and for promoting climate adaptation.
Drawing on existing decentralization research and experience, RFGI is looking for pathways to successful decentralization. The Initiative aims to strengthen links between successful decentralization and locally responsive, accountable, and pro-poor outcomes. It assesses the conditions under which central authorities devolve substantial forest management and use decisions to local governments, as well as the conditions that enable local government reduce poverty through forest management. Local government can serve as the institutional infrastructure for scaling up local participation in public decision making. RFGI aims to enable local governments to play this integrative role in rural development and natural resource management.
The Initiative is training young, in-country policy researchers in order to build an Africa-wide network of environmental governance analysts. RFGI has also invited independently funded researchers from other regions of the world to participate in the program. The results from Africa will be compared with results from studies carried out by collaborators in Asia and South America in order to enhance RFGI comparative scope, and to broaden its geographic policy relevance.
Status: Fully funded and underway since December 2010.
RFGI Background Materials
Economic Development, Climate Change, and the Transition to Renewable Energy
Director: Brian Dill; Principal Investigators: Ashwini Chhatre, Katherine Baylis, and Matthew Winters
This project on renewable energy has received funding ($76,000) from the Interdisciplinary Innovation Initiative (In3) Program at the University of Illinois. SDEP has also provided support for the project by financing a Research Assistant, Shikha Lakhanpal, during Spring and Summer 2012.
The purposes of this project, which will run until May 2014, are twofold. First, it aims to understand the international and global forces that both influence and accelerate the “energy transition,” or the changeover from an energy system rooted in the extraction and conversion of fossil fuels to one based primarily on renewables. Second, it aims to document and explain the domestic factors that impel and facilitate the shift from non-renewable to renewable energy.
During the 2012-13 academic year, there will be a graduate seminar “Globalization of Renewable Energy” which will be team-taught by the PI and co-PIs and will serve to refine the research questions as well as identify specific synergies among faculty and students for promoting interdisciplinarity. The first year will conclude with a 2-day symposium (5-6 April 2013) on the Social Dimensions of Renewable Energy. Professor Dan Kammen (UC Berkeley) will provide the keynote. The project team, along with a small group of international experts and colleagues from across campus will examine three themes related to renewable energy the following day.
Status: Started in January 2012.
Institutional Choice and Recognition in Natural Resource Management
Principal Investigator: Jesse Ribot
This research project explores the democratizing effects of natural resource “democratic decentralization” reforms and projects. Many developing countries have launched decentralization reforms to establish and democratize local government. These reforms purport to lead to better service delivery, stronger local development and more sustainable resource management. However, national governments, international development agencies, and other organizations are not empowering local government. Instead, they are transferring power to a wide range of local institutions, including private bodies, customary authorities and non-government organizations. By transferring powers to these other local institutions, states are choosing to “recognize” them in place of democratically-elected local governments. As a result, fledgling local governments receive few public powers and face competition for legitimacy. While planners have long espoused integrated rural development, the new trend in decentralization often results in fragmented forms of authority and belonging. The new trend also dampens long-run prospects for local democratic consolidation.
The Institutional Choice research program examined how the institutional choices made by governments, international development agencies and other organizations impact three dimensions of democracy: 1) representation, 2) belonging and citizenship, and 3) the public domain. This comparative policy research program includes case studies in Benin, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Uganda, Zimbabwe, China, India, Inner Mongolia, Thailand, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Russia.
Status: Several major research efforts have been completed in The Institutional Choice and Recognition program. The resulting publications are detailed in the Publications list below. The RFGI program, described above, continues this research.
Film as Experimental Research Communication
Principal Investigator: Jesse Ribot
The Film as Experimental Research Communication initiative explores film as a medium for communicating research results to policy makers, development practitioners and affected populations. Initiative projects use dramatic accounts of research results, often laced with irony and humor, in order to move research from the scholarly realm into the realm of policy change and action.
The initiative has so far produced two films based on research in Senegal: The first film, Weex Dunx and the Quota, was completed in 2007. The second film, Semmiñ Ñaari Boor, was completed in January 2010 (see film synopsis box). We are seeking complementary support for the third film.
The Film as Experimental Research Communication initiative not only produces films, but diffuses them and evaluates their impacts. Weex Dunx and the Quota is being diffused widely, with a focus on Senegalese audiences. We have received funding from the International Center for Local Democracy (ICLD) to study how the film communicates forest governance research findings to students, policy audiences and affected populations. Initial evaluation shows that local elected officials in Senegal have used Weex Dunx to create public discussion of the obstacles they face. We are currently studying the effects of this film on policy and practice in Senegal.
Status: Thus far, the Initiative has produced two films. A follow-up study is underway to examine how one film communicates forest governance research findings to stakeholders. A working paper based on this study is due in Autumn 2011. Partial funding for a third film was secured as part of the RFGI grant (described above). We are seeking complementary support for this film.
Semmiñ Ñaari Boor (Double Bladed Axe) tells the story of how residents of the village of Daru Fippu, Senegal become involved in forest management. The Forest Service, through its “Manage the Forest” project, convinces the reluctant villagers to participate in producing charcoal to sell in the capital city, Dakar. The Forest Service promises villagers the project will earn them money for local development. But villagers find that participation means only hard labor and there is no money for development. The Foresters make sure that powerful urban-based merchants maintain control of lucrative charcoal markets. Mbaxan, the sympathetic director of the “Manage the Forest” project, helps the villagers sell a few truckloads of charcoal in the city. But after seeing how high charcoal prices are in Dakar, villagers want to sell all their charcoal there. Daru Fippu federates in order to stand up to the Foresters’ double talk. Semmiñ Ñaari Boor premiered in Dakar, Senegal on January 8, 2010.
Weex Dunx and the Quota: Plucking Local Democracy in Senegal
Semmiñ Ñaari Boor (Double Bladed Axe)
English: Semmiñ Ñaari Boor (English subtitles)
French: Semmiñ Ñaari Boor (French subtitles)
Recent SDEP Democracy and Environment Publications and Products
- Alexander, C., N. Gregson, and Z. Gille. Forthcoming. “Leftovers and Waste.” In: A. Murcott, W. Belasco, and P. Jackson (eds.). The Handbook of Food Research. Berg Publishers.
- Dill, B., and A. Chhatre. Forthcoming. Renewable Power in the Age of Globalization. Springer.
- Gille, Z. Forthcoming. “Food Waste Regimes from a Transnational Perspective.” Special Issue of Sociological Review edited by Anne Murcott and David Evans.
- Gille, Zsuzsa. Forthcoming. “Ecological modernization or waste-dependent development?: Hungary's 2010 red mud disaster.” In: H. Trischler, R. Odenziel, and H. Weber (eds.). Cycling and Recycling.
- Ribot, J., and A.M. Larson. Forthcoming 2012. “Reducing REDD Risks: Affirmative Policy on an Uneven Playing Field” International Journal of the Commons.
- Gille, Z. 2012. “Sociology of Waste.” In: C. A. Zimring (ed.). Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste. (p. 833-837). Sage.
- Gille, Z. 2012. “Socialist Societies.” In: C. A. Zimring (ed.). Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste. (p. 829-830). Sage.
- Marino. E., and J. Ribot. 2012. “Adding Insult to Injury: Climate Change and the Inequities of Climate Intervention.” Pre-copy Edit Version. Global Environmental Change 22(2).
- Agrawal, A., D. Nepstad, and A. Chhatre. 2011. “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 36:373-396.
- Bassett, T., and S. Straus. 2011. “Defending Democracy in Côte d’Ivoire: Africa Takes a Stand.” Foreign Affairs 90(4):130-140.
- Persha, L., A. Agrawal, and A. Chhatre. 2011. “Social and Ecological Synergy: Local Rulemaking, Forest Livelihoods, and Biodiversity Conservation.” Science 331:1606-1608.
- Poteete, A., and J. Ribot. 2011. “Repertoires of Domination: Decentralization as Process in Botswana and Senegal” World Development 39(3):439-449.
- Ribot, J. 2011. “Seeing REDD for Local Democracy: A Call for Democracy Standards” Common Voices 3:14-16.
- Ribot, J. 2011. “Participation Without Representation: Chiefs, Councils and Forestry Law in the West African Sahel.” In: A. Cornwall (ed.). The Participation Reader. London: Zed Books. [Reprinted from 1996. Cultural Survival Quarterly 20(1).]
- Ribot, J. 2011. “Comment on ‘The Realities of Participatory Forest Management: Case Study Analyses from Tanzania, Mozambique, Laos and Vietnam.’” In: I. Mustalahti (ed.). Footprints in Forests: Effects and Impacts of Finnish Forestry Assistance. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland.
- Ribot, J., and Anne M. Larson. 2011. “Reducing REDD Risks: Affirmative Policy on an Uneven Playing Field.” In: T. Sikor & J. Stahl (eds.). Forests and People: Property, Governance, and Human Rights. London: Earthscan.
- Dill, B. 2010. “Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and Norms of Participation in Tanzania: Working Against the Grain.” African Studies Review 53(2):23-48.
- Dill, B. 2010. “Public-Public Partnerships in Urban Water Provision: The Case of Dar es Salaam.” Journal of International Development 22:611-624.
- Gille, Z. 2010. “Reassembling the Macrosocial: Modes of Production, Actor Networks and Waste Regimes.” Environment and Planning A 42(5):1049-1064.
- Persha, L., H. Fischer, A. Chhatre, A. Agrawal, and C. Benson. 2010. “Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihoods in Human-Dominated Landscapes: Forest Commons in South Asia.” Biological Conservation 143(12):2918-2925.
- Ribot, J., T. Treue, and J.F. Lund. 2010. “Democratic Decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Its Contribution to Forest Management, Livelihoods, and Enfranchisement.” Environmental Conservation 37(1):35–44.
- Sikor, T., J. Stahl, T. Enters, J. Ribot, N. Singh, W.D. Sunderlin, and L. Wollenberg. 2010. “REDD-plus, Forest People’s Rights and Nested Climate Governance.” Global Environmental Change 20(3):423-425.
- Chhatre, A. and A. Agrawal. 2008. “Forest Commons and Local Enforcement.” PNAS 105(36):13286-13291.
- Dill, B. 2009. “The Paradoxes of Community-Based Participation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.” Development and Change 40(4):717-743.
- Gille, Z. 2009. “From Nature as Proxy to Nature as Actor.” Introduction to thematic cluster “Nature, Culture and Power.” Slavic Review 68(1):1-9.
- Gille, Z. 2009. Thematic cluster “Nature, Culture and Power.” Slavic Review 68(1).
- Perha, L., H. Ojha, and A. Chhatre. 2009. “Community Forestry in Nepal: A Policy Innovation for Local Livelihoods.” International Food Policy Research Institute Discussion Paper #913.
- Ribot, J. 2009. “Access over Authority: Recentralizing Benefits in Senegal’s Forestry Decentralization.” Development and Change 40(1). [this publication accompanies the film Weex Dunx]
- Ribot, J. 2009. “Forestry and Democratic Decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Rough Review.” In: L.A. German, A. Karsenty, and A. Tiani (eds.), pp. 29-55. Governing Africa’s Forests in a Globalized World. London: Earthscan. [Also available in French.]
- Agrawal, A., A. Chhatre, and R. Hardin. 2008. “Changing Governance of World’s Forests.” Science 320:1460-62.
- Chhatre, A. 2008. “Political Articulation and Accountability in Decentralization: Theory and Evidence from India.” Conservation and Society 6(1):12-21.
- Ribot, J., A. Chhatre, and T.V. Lankina. 2008. “The Politics of Choice and Recognition in Democratic Decentralization.” Conservation and Society 6(1):1-11.
- Ribot, J. 2006. “Choose Democracy: Environmentalists’ Socio-political Responsibility.” Global Environmental Change 16(2):115-119.
- 2007. Weex Dunx and the Quota: The Plucking of Democracy in Senegal.
- 2010. Semmiñ Ñaari Boor.