National Forest Programme
NFP principle: Participation and partnership
Definition and significance
Democratic consultation and decision-making are central to the success of an NFP. Multi-stakeholder participation promotes transparency and consensus building. Participation and partnership guarantee the utilization of broad expertise and resources and an equitable sharing of workload, responsibilities and ownership. Participation comprises three dimensions determining who should participate, when and to what degree:
- The range of participating stakeholders covers state and non-state stakeholders of the forest sector as well as of other relevant sectors. As participation in an NFP process requires a certain degree of organization and capacity, it is mostly in the hands of organized interest groups.
- Participation takes place in different phases of the NFP process (analysis, policy formulation, implementation and M&E) and in different sub-processes, such as review of specific laws or regulations.
- Participation covers a broad spectrum of different degrees of stakeholder involvement. These degrees range from informing through shared decision making. Depth of participation might vary according to the stakeholder and the NFP phase.
The first step is to identify stakeholders and their relationships, and categorize stakeholders according to different parameters, such as participation that is direct versus indirect, powerful versus weak, or national versus international. The next steps are to analyse stakeholders’ influence and importance in the process, identify the adequate level of participation and decide on the measures on their involvement.
Participation requires clarification of stakeholders’ mandates, tasks, rights and obligations. It also necessities the establishment of mechanisms for participation, coordination and conflict resolution. Improvement of cooperation at different levels is needed for the exchange of information and expertise.
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How to measure progress
A set of indicators is needed to gauge the quality of participation in the NFP context. For example, the degree of stakeholder organization in the NFP process could serve as an indicator because it reflects the level of empowerment and use of stakeholder potential. The continuity of attendance and participation of stakeholders – with the same individual are present throughout the process – is an equally good indicator to measure interest in and ownership of the process.
Country experiences are based on a survey carried out in 2010 by FAO and the NFP Facility to better understand how NFPs work in practice.
Overall, countries have made considerable progress in strengthening participation. There is a broadly shared recognition of the importance of involving stakeholders at all levels and an increased effort to do so. Nevertheless, insufficient access to information and a lack of organization and capacity still hinders the involvement of certain stakeholder groups – especially indigenous peoples, women and local community groups.
There is a need to support capacity development of these groups and to increase stakeholder participation in the implementation of NFP-driven policies and strategies.
In increasing participation, NFPs should ensure:
- sufficient involvement of high-level political players – to increase the likelihood that politically sensitive recommendations derived from stakeholder forums will be taken up;
- adequate involvement of technicians, because a lack of technical expertise can lead to outcomes that are difficult to implement in the field;
- sufficient engagement of other economic sectors;
- full realization of the potential of civil-society actors, especially indigenous groups and women;
- involvement of private-sector stakeholders.