Legitimacy in REDD+ governance in Indonesia

Legitimacy in REDD+ governance in Indonesia


This study looks at the perception of non-state actors of Indonesia's REDD+ program, coming from domestic and international NGOs, private sector, and academics. These actors assess the legitimacy of REDD+ programs based on input legitimacy, coming from a balanced representation of stakeholders in project discourse, and output legitimacy, proxied by positive project outcomes.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Non-state actors consider input legitimacy as vital for Indonesia's REDD+ implementation. Particularly for local communities, input legitimacy is the main metric for their perception of REDD+ governance. The inclusion of community representatives in the discourse indicate that the bigger actors (e.g. the government and private sectors) are taking their livelihoods and needs into consideration. That being said, agendas set by discussion organizers often exclude topics of local concern, thus still neglecting to address key issues despite including locals in the discussion. Non-state actors consider input legitimacy as a goal in itself due to the fact that the participation and knowledge of locals are crucial to the success of the projects. The most prominent metric of output legitimacy for non-state actors take the form of livelihood improvements. However, this metric poses a challenge as the parties involved do not necessarily share the same output goals. For example, a project that failed to reduce emissions but managed to improve community livelihoods may be seen as illegitimate by national and international standards yet highly approved by local communities. So far, input legitimacy has been present in Indonesia's REDD+ programs; however, output legitimacy has been hindered by the lack of capacity in coordination and forest management. The scope of REDD+ (carbon, environmental, and social) is also wide, leading to trade-offs between the achievement of objectives. Additionally, the high number and diverse interests of actors makes it hard to identify common objectives.


Glover A, Schroeder H. Legitimacy in REDD+ governance in Indonesia. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. 2017;17(5):695 - 708. doi:10.1007/s10784-016-9341-x.


  • School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK