Forests as global commons provide ecosystem services crucial for local forest users as well as the survival of humanity. At the same time, agricultural frontiers are steadily expanding into natural forests, particularly in the rural tropics still covered by large forest areas. Deforestation and forest degradation provoke enormous social, environmental and economic costs at the local, national and global level. Against this backdrop, a myriad of initiatives at all levels have been directed into improving forest governance to protect the remaining natural forests, to restore degraded forest land, and to properly manage the old and new forests for the benefit of the next generations. This study reviews the main elements of International Forest Governance (IFG), including the role of Germany, to promote the sustainable management and protection of natural forests, and analyses their impacts on tackling deforestation, forest degradation, biodiversity loss, climate change, and illegal activities. Based on international relations and global governance literatures, six basic types are derived that the IFG elements are clustered into: (1) multilateral intergovernmental treaties (CBD, ITAA, UNFCCC, failed forest convention), (2) non-legally binding multilateral agreements (IAF), (3) transnational hybrid governance regimes (FLEGT/timber legality regime), (4) public-private-partnerships (e.g., REDD+ initiatives), (5) non-state market driven governance (FSC/PEFC forest certification), and (6) private sector partnerships (deforestation free initiatives). These processes are reviewed in terms of their effectiveness and analysed with regard to the involved state and non-state actors including their positions, mind-sets and coalitions, as well as their specific policy aims, tools, management concepts, monitoring and control mechanisms, and main pathways of influence. This allowed to identify important challenges in the design and implementation as well as in the coordination, integration and coherence of all these governance elements, including the consideration of forest adverse governance arrangements outside the forest sector (e.g., agriculture, bioenergy, mining). Based on this analysis, this study critically reflects about the need and possibilities for transformative changes to secure the global commons function of forests. We conclude that the following possibilities have a realistic potential to at least strengthen global forest governance: (1) alignment of the International Forest Governance Regime, (2) promotion of the private sector within a strong regulatory framework; (3) intensification of bilateral action on the ground, and (4) an honest reflection on the own ambivalent role, on assumptions and expectations.
- Publication Year
- Publication Type
- RIFS Brochures
Pokorny, B., Sotirov, M., Kleinschmit, D., & Kanowski, P. (2019). wpn2030 - Wissenschaftsplattform Nachhaltigkeit 2030. Forests as a Global Commons: International governance and the role of Germany. Report to the Science Platform Sustainability 2030. IASS Brochure.
- Projects involved
- Science Platform Sustainability 2030