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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 6: People and Processes
approaches to reform, the effects of power balances, different
modes of assuring accountability and the relation of governance
issues in bioenergy strategy implementation with governance in
other key sectors such as agriculture and forestry.
What is the best way to improve governance? As suggested by
the above requirements, the distinction between “demand-side”
and “supply-side” approaches is important and the best option
often involves using a combination of both approaches; Figure 1
illustrates the relation for the agricultural sector. The challenge is
to identify a combination of reform approaches that is politically
feasible, but at the same time fts the country-specifc frame
Representative and accountable local governments with enough
decision making and fnancial autonomy are essential to good
governance, especially for land and natural resource manage-
ment. The demand and supply aspects of good governance
require accountability to be mediated by local governments, as
illustrated through the following components (Ribot, 2004; see
Figure 2).
• Representative local governments have adequate public
powers, and their accountability is downward to the local
• Other local institutions holding powers are accountable to the
representative local government. In this accountability to the
people is channelled through representative local authorities;
• While local government must be accountable to central
government to ensure national cohesion, the reverse must
also be true, so that local authorities can demand support
services such as equipment, information, training and
technical expertise.
A signifcant power gap between stakeholders complicates the
governance processes; the asymmetry of power often results
in a misuse of power. The poor are vulnerable when they must
compete against infuential people (e.g. politicians, government
offcials, military, police, and private sector). The high cost (in legal,
social, or institutional terms) of defending local interests is a major
barrier for the rural poor; the following measures can help mitigate
power asymmetry (FAO and UN-Habitat, 2009):
• Provide a framework for equitable participation in decision-
making processes: indigenous people, the elderly, minorities
and refugees should be included in the decision-making
process regarding the use of their land. Women and men
should be afforded an equal opportunity to participate. All
decisions on land should be based on respect for human
• Provide the means for all people to participate equitably:
marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable people should
have access to affordable legal aid specialized in land tenure
and its administration. Government offcials should provide
timely access to information on land issues in appropriate
forms and languages. Land laws should be applied fairly.
Power issues can be evaluated through the use of the “4Rs”
framework for stakeholders: Rights, Responsibilities, Returns/
Revenue, and Relationships (Mayers, 2005). The 4Rs framework
also helps to highlight leverage points in relation to the interaction
between stakeholders. There must be an appropriate balance
between stakeholders’ ”3Rs”—where where Rights and Returns
are viewed as incentives and Responsibilities are viewed as
obligations—and relationships (the 4th “R”) in order to maintain
a stable multi-stakeholder collaborative arrangement. The
“4Rs” evolve over time as communities and societies change,
and hence so does the ideal mix across the “4Rs.” Success
in managing land and natural resource competition related to
bioenergy investments requires a cycle and a mechanism in which
the “4Rs” can be negotiated when deemed necessary by one
major stakeholder.
Local Population
Power transfer
Central level
Meso level
Micro level
Economic Operators
Local Line Agencies
Central Government
Customary Authority
Source: Adapted from Ribot, 2004
Figure 2: Accountability relations mediated by local government