Dec 18, 2018

Policy coherence needs stronger motivation and will at all levels

While policy coherence could be the mortar that interlocks the building blocks of good governance, it is often neglected. This view was shared by the participants of a recent panel discussion bringing together the perspectives of policy makers, practitioners, scientists, civil society, private sector and development cooperation.

Forestry is linked to many sectors, such as agriculture, mining and infrastructure, as well as to our ways of consumption. These interlinkages offer a major opportunity to strengthen policy coherence. Yet, currently policy coherence is lacking, because the various actors don’t often know what it entails, and the mutual benefits of a coordinated approach are not clear. Moreover, creating an enabling environment for stronger policy coherence often is not the priority of electorates.

So what could trigger and promote policy coherence? More coordination and less competition between different actors and between different levels (local-regional-national)? Then probably the mutual benefits of coordination would need be made better understood.

More effort would also be needed to understand the failures and successes of historical policy interventions to avoid self-reinventing policy cycles. A better understanding of social networks of corruption would also help addressing root causes of problematic governance as even the most coherent policy will be disrupted by non-state vested interests.

The panel agreed that modern technocratic thinking alone is not enough to strengthen policy coherence, so there is a need to motivate actors at different levels to work together and find synergies and benefits for the different sectors and actors to connect.


The panel discussion took place during the seminar “Local lessons to global implications – pathways to effective forest-related policies”, held in Bonn, Germany on 30 November 2018. The seminar was organised by the SAFARI-project and gave also a short overview of the project’s main findings by highlighting SFM, FLEGT and REDD policy coherence: impacts, synergies and lessons from local to national level, with case studies from Guyana, Suriname, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia. View the full programme here and and selected presentations here.

SAFARI is conducted by the European Forest Institute, University of Hamburg and University of Leuven and it is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).