Private Sector, Government, NGOs and Research Organizations Formed a Coalition to Restore Forests in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest Region
Brancalion, P. H., S. R. Pinto, L. Pugliese, A. Padovezi, R. R. Rodrigues, M. Calmon, H. Carrascosa, P. Castro, and B. Mesquita. 2016. Governance innovations from a multi-stakeholder coalition to implement large-scale Forest Restoration in Brazil. World Development Perspectives 3:15-17.
Forest restoration relies on the involvement of multiple stakeholders; each has a specific and essential role. In the case of Brazil, for example, farmers and private companies have most of the lands to be restored, governments create regulations to push restoration forward, and researchers apply knowledge to overcome existing technological barriers. The lack of involvement and buy-in of each of these stakeholders creates a serious barrier for restoration success. Although each stakeholder group may eventually do its part to push restoration forward, coordination is essential. It is like having a group of excellent musicians playing together, but without a conductor to help them to play as an ensemble. Large-scale forest restoration is critically dependent upon the collaboration among these stakeholder groups, yet we still don’t know how to achieve through ensembles or coalitions.
After decades of uncoordinated activities and sub-optimal results in the Atlantic Forest biome of Brazil, a group of organizations realized that the ambitious restoration goals planned for this highly threatened ecosystem would not be achieved without the collaboration of the different stakeholder groups involved with restoration, and decided to act. In 2009, they established the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact, a coalition among private sector, governments, NGOs and research organizations that collectively set the target to restore 15 million hectares of Atlantic Forest by 2050. This coalition has over 270 members, and have transformed the way large-scale restoration is governed and implemented in the region. In this paper, some of the leaders of this movement presented four main innovations promoted by the Pact to improve the way large-scale and high-quality restoration is governed, as means of contributing to other restoration programs and movement from other global regions. These innovations covered the issues i) Mobilization and engagement of a diverse group of stakeholders and sectors, ii) Development of a collaborative platform for achieving restoration solutions, iii) Harmonization of regional socio-ecological specificities into a common vision, and iv) innovation to foster change. These lines of governance innovations have critically contributed to produce a decentralized governance structure and institutional arrangements, engagement of local stakeholders in the decision-making process, and scientific evidence on the benefits of restoration to landowners and communities, which have transformed the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact into one of the most well-known and successful restoration programs of the world.
The PARTNERS Connection
This paper originated at the second PARTNERS workshop in October 2015. The Governance working group mobilized to gather cases for a special issue on Governance Innovations for Forest Restoration. The group was looking for examples of governance innovations, including facilitating collaborations between existing institutions that foster restoration efforts. Several participants in the workshop are active members of the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact and contributed this case study.