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Political Economy Analysis for Decision-Making in Forestry


Forest governance reforms create “winners” and “losers.” Losers oppose the reforms and will likely sabotage the reform process. Would-be reformers must offset the resistance of losers. This is not easy since the losers are, typically, a small, well-entrenched and politically powerful group that can organize and act forcefully, while potential winners are part of a much larger and more scattered group, and less capable of organizing themselves for collective action, even when they stand to be directly affected directly. The success of reform often hinges on being able to overcome the resistance of the losers, strengthen demand for good governance and get the support of potential winners. But how can a development agency, in practice, increase the probability of success of reform initiatives?

Thus, a review of political economy analysis (PEA), or the technique “concerned with the interaction of political and economic processes in a society”, was carried out to assess the applicability of different PEA frameworks onto different forestry governance development projects.


This activity examines a range of political economy issues arising from forest governance reform attempts, and offers suggestions on how resistance can be mitigated and the support from would-be winners strengthened to reduce the risks of sabotage. More specifically, the activity produces:

  • A detailed review of literature and available experiences in forestry and other relevant sectors
  • A focus group workshop at the World Bank to gather inputs from Bank staff on their experience and understanding of political economy issues and hands on practice on one of the political economy frameworks.


The final paper "The Political Economy of Decision-making in Forestry: Using Evidence and Analysis for Reform" is now available. The report is based on two workshops , featuring Net-Map, the most practical and result –proven technique in governance reform.

The paper reviews eight PEA approaches: DFID’s Drivers of Change, ODI’s sector level analysis, The World Bank Group’s Political Economy of Policy Reform and Problem-driven Governance and Political Economy Analysis, Strategic Governance and Corruption Analysis, SIDA’s Power analysis, the Agent-Based Stakeholder Model, and Net-Map. Each of these approaches is analyzed based on four factors, pertinent to the forest sector: practicality, relevance, robustness and adaptability.

  • Practicality: encompassing factors such as time, resources, or capacity.
  • Relevance: refers to usefulness of the technique for project planning, implementation, and monitoring or evaluation.
  • Robustness: refers to credibility and replicability of the technique.
  • Adaptability: refers to how flexible the technique is, at different level of analysis and applicability of the technique multi-sector analysis.

Based on the specificity of the project that each of the technique is chosen, however, there is only one framework that has been directly applied in forest sector (Net-Map).  Understanding that PEA can lead to long term impact, one recommendation from the report is to promote the use of PEA at corporate level, and building up evidence based on how PEA contributes to better outcomes in the sector.

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Last Updated : 06-08-2018