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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

The importance of the will to improve: how "sustainability' sidelined local livelihoods in a carbon-forestry investment in Uganda

Fischer, Klara; Hajdu, Flora


This paper describes a win-win' discourse on local sustainable development and global climate change mitigation regarding Kachung, a Swedish-Norwegian climate forestry investment in Uganda certified under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). In many ways, this investment is a typical example of how private interests and capital accumulation are prioritised over local concerns in natural resource management under neoliberalism. This study, however, indicated that investors had genuine intentions of creating mutual benefits for the global environment and local people. Drawing on Li (2007), we show that this will to improve' was nevertheless constructed in ways that resulted in prioritisation of global climate change mitigation over local context-specific concerns.We identify three core factors making the win-win discourse around Kachung plantation especially resilient: (i) the perceived urgency of climate change mitigation, (ii) the apolitical framing of sustainability' as an environmental issue that can be fixed through external technical interventions and (iii) the devaluation of local and context-specific knowledge. We end by suggesting that research on the neoliberalisation of nature focus more on analysing the rationales behind specific interventions. This would leave us better equipped to suggest how such interventions should be modified to produce true wins for local contexts.


Neoliberal; climate change; forestry; expert; sustainable

Published in

Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning
2018, Volume: 20, number: 3, pages: 328-341