Traditionally, the evolution of governance mechanisms has been studied at a macro level, whereas the impacts of institutions and regimes are investigated at a micro-level. There has been insufficient attention paid to understanding the vertical linkages of institutions from the international level down to the household level. Similarly, there has been little research on the interactions of horizontally linked institutions at multiple scales and what impacts they have on achieving policy outcomes and affecting local livelihoods. As states continue to negotiate the future of a global climate regime, it is important that better understand its potential distributional and human security implications; the current segmented research approach masks these consequences. The proposed research seeks to address this research gap with both methodological and substantive contributions through an in-depth investigation of forest carbon regimes. More specifically, the proposed research will examine the institutional relationships in
three Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) countries in order to understand the potential impacts of the introduction of a new, global regime. By mapping the causal relationships between institutions and livelihoods and identifying the horizontal and vertical networks across scales, this research will provide scholars and policy makers with a more robust understanding of how global governance architectures directly impact local communities.
This paper presents one component of the proposed research: the Laos case study. The Forest Carbon Partnership Fund identified Laos as one of the first REDD-Ready countries to receive pilot funding for forest conservation. REDD, however, has the potential to contribute to uncertainty for communities, increasing vulnerability among the marginalized poor. By creating new property rights systems and restricting access for forest-dependent villagers, REDD transforms the traditional institutions that help provide stability in communities.
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