Diagnosis of forest poverty and environmental issues reveals two basic problems:
- Many forests are nominally owned by governments, but actual control is unclear or disputed. Elsewhere, private or community rights are not respected. Who should have the right to use and manage forests? How can rights be reliably enforced?
- How should the interests of forest owners in removing trees be balanced against the interests of others--near and far--in maintaining the environmental benefits of those trees?
These are problems of governance that rewuire balancing interests between groups, negotiating solutions, and enforcing commitments. But these problems have been difficult to address.
First, elites tend to capture the institutions that allocate forest resources. Second, there are strong assymetries of information, power, and organization between the beneficiaries of deforestation and those who bear its burdens.
The diffuse interest groups favoring forest conservation find it hard to organize themselves to counterbalance the concentrated interests of forest degradation.
Building on a framework introduced in the World Development Report 2003: Sustainable Development in a Dynamic World (World Bank, 2002), the report describes institutional and technological innovations that might help overcome these two barriers to collective action.
These catalytic innovations include
- building constituencies for conservation and and better governance
- improving public monitoring and disclosure of forest conditions and management
- certifying forest and agricultural products
- introducing more flexible, market-like approaches to environmental regulation
These innovations can help diffuse groups organize, check abuses of power, and cut the costs of reaching agreements.