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Multi-level forest governance, policy diffusion, and the role of the state, the case of Vietnam

Iben Nathan
University of Copenhagen
Karin Buhman
University of Copenhagen
Iben Nathan
University of Copenhagen
Open Panel

Abstract

EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Program aims to avoid import of illegal timber to EU and to develop capacity within law enforcement, forest administration, and forest governance in wood exporting countries, such as Vietnam. This happens through Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) between wood producing countries and the EU. EU requires that VPA’s are elaborated by involving all stakeholders. Until now, only three countries have signed VPAs, but many more countries will follow. Wood producing countries have strong economic interests in timber exports and are therefore likely to adapt to the principles laid down in the program by EU. Hence EU/FLEGT can be expected to give rise to similar policies across the globe, and to become an important source for norm and policy diffusion in individual countries’ timber sectors. This paper takes Vietnam as example in examining 1) to what extent EU’s FLEGT programme can be seen as an example of policy diffusion influencing policy development at national as well as sub-national levels in Vietnam and government as well as non-government actors in the sector. Seeing policy development as an important traditional role of the state at national and sub-national levels, the paper furthermore explores whether policy diffusion forces the (Vietnamese) state to change role vis-à-vis the many non-state actors in the sector (private enterprises, state forest enterprises, NGOs, farmers etc) in order to meet new norms and regulations stipulated by the EU program. Does the program result in retreat of the developmental state? Or does it rather force the (Vietnamese) state to transform itself and to increase its capacities to meet the many new requirements? Thus, the paper also intends to contribute to the general debate about the role of the state in multi-level governance. The paper is based on qualitative methods