Unpacking decentralization


The term "decentralization" is applied to a wide diversity of governance arrangements around the world and has achieved positive, negative, and no results in its application to natural resource management. Part of the reason that the results have been so mixed is that the term decentralization is used as the name of widely diverse policies including: (1) deconcentration of national administrative authority to regional or local offices, (2) shifting authority from national agencies to local agencies with varying degrees of autonomy, and (3) privatization of the ownership and/or management of natural resource system. Thus, the resulting formal governance arrangements may vary substantially from one decentralization effort to another dependant both on the policies that are adopted and on many other factors including the broader economy of a country and the region where decentralization is occurring, the set of legal rights that had been in existence prior to the new policy, and multiple economic processes. Consequently, the behavior or resource users, private firms, government officials at multiple levels will differ substantially. Thus, livelihood and sustainability outcomes will tend to differ substantially from one location to another.



Forest management, Livelihoods, Local policy, Government policy, Sustainable forestry, Forestry, Decentralization, Forests, Natural resource management, Local governance, Incentives, Property rights, Financing, Bolivia, Kenya, Mexico, Uganda, Governance


LTRA-1 Working Paper 08-7