The Politics of Hope: Brokering REDD+ in Berau’s ‘Green Economy’

Authors: Zachary R. Anderson*, University of Toronto
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Development, Social Geography
Keywords: REDD+, Green Economy, Indonesia, Conservation, Development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In Indonesia, the economic valuation and commodification of forest ecosystem services, specifically the ability to absorb and store carbon, has emerged as the dominant means through which various actors are attempting to incentivize the protection of forests as they come into competition with other, more lucrative, land uses, particularly conversion to oil palm plantations. This commodification is being facilitated through the market-based Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program, and is heralded as a crucial means of supporting the shift to a new ‘green economy’ in which economic growth can continue unabated without the negative environmental externalities associated with traditional approaches to development. This paper explores the processes of contestation and negotiation that underlie the rollout of REDD+ in the district of Berau in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. ‘On the ground’, REDD+ has become an umbrella encompassing a range of different practices – some far removed from the production of salable ecosystem service credits or even the direct conservation of forest areas. At times the projects associated with REDD+ in Berau have acted to constrain certain land uses which support subsistence, while selectively accommodating ‘business as usual’ extractive practices in the interest of producing a coherent, if ephemeral, performance of carbon-based sustainable forest management. I examine the role that various key ‘brokers’ play in holding together the chimera of REDD+ as frictions arise from these practices, and different actors face unmet expectations and begin to question the future of REDD+.

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