Project data

The Forestry Sector as an Inequality Machine? Agents, Agreements and Global Politics of Trade and Investment in the Congo Basin

Initiative: Global Issues
Call : Global Issues – Integrating Different Perspectives on Social Inequality
Allocation: Dec 11, 2019
Period of funding: 4 Years

Project information

Forests and forestlands in the tropics are supposed to serve a multitude of global and domestic interests, including development, climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. All these interests have explicit assumptions in common over their positive contribution to the economic wellbeing and social equality of society. However, who - and whose society - benefits from ongoing deforestation and forest concessions in the tropics? The research project aims to answer this question by analyzing global and historic data to gain an understanding of the inequalities embedded in trade and investment patterns in relation to forests and forestland in the Global South, and the mechanisms that produce and reproduce these inequalities. The project will focus on the Congo Basin, specifically Cameroon and DRC, and the former colonial empires in Europe; in addition, it looks at China as a relatively new 'external partner' to this sort of trade. It analyses comparatively the institutions and incentives structures, power relations, and discursive practices in and beyond the forest sector, and investigates if international initiatives and agreements risk reproducing social inequalities. The research team explicitly aims to engage with actors across all levels and sectors and to share their findings and knowledge with wider society and publics; this constitutes the main impact pathway to inform the design of policy instruments aiming to halt deforestation and to contribute to discursive shifts in current understandings of "who should benefit from forests".

Project participants

  • Prof. Dr. Maria Brockhaus

    University of Helsinki
    Department of Forest Sciences

  • Dr. Symphorien Ongolo

    Universität Göttingen
    Chair of Forest and Nature Conservation Policy

  • Patrice Bigombe Logo

    Université de Yaoundé II
    Faculty of Judicial and Political Science
    Group for Administrative and Political Science

  • Dr. Blaise-Pascal Ntirumenyerwa Mihigo

    University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN)
    Faculty of Law
    Department of Public International Law
    Congo (Democratic Republic - Kinshasa)

  • Dr. Jianmin Xiao

    Chinese Academy of Forestry
    Research Institute of Forestry Policy
    and Information
    China (People's Republic)

Open Access Publications