Reducing Deforestation to Fight Climate Change: Insights From a CFR Workshop

Council on Foreign Relations

[CFR Energy, Security, and Climate blog] Why has Brazil slashed deforestation over the last decade while Indonesian deforestation has accelerated?…

Figuring out why Brazil has succeeded while Indonesia has lagged can provide insight into how both countries can do more.

Earlier this year I gathered a multidisciplinary group to explore the Brazilian experience and extract lessons for climate policy. Some of the highlights are summarized in a short report that we’ve just released. We looked at a wide range of issues, many of which are discussed in the report, but I was particularly intrigued by our discussion of why Brazil and Indonesia turned out so differently from each other.

The most obvious reason is that Brazil had an earlier start. Its government has been focused on reducing deforestation for over a decade; the Indonesian government hasn’t started looking at the issue seriously until more recently. This is actually good news, since it’s something that time should overcome.

Governance and rule of law also stood out as big factors. Both countries have fairly decentralized governance – a feature that should make controlling deforestation difficult since decisions from the center don’t always translate into action. But Indonesian governance is considerably less centralized, which puts Indonesia at a disadvantage…


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