Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI) Research Programme

Principal Investigators: Jesse Ribot (University of Illinois), James Murombedzi (CODESRIA), Ebrima Sall (CODESRIA), and Edmund Barrow (IUCN)


The Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI) was a 5-year, 14-country, comparative research and training program, focusing on environmental governance in Africa. The RFGI is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and executed by the Council for the Development of Social Sciences Research in Africa (CODESRIA), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The initiative was coordinated by a team of four co-directors, three postdoctoral fellows, and thirty-four researchers working in twelve African countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda -- and two additional cases in Nepal and Peru.

RFGI was designed to research “responsive and accountable decentralization” in forestry, so as to strengthen the representation of forest-based rural populations in decision-making. The program worked to identify ways to enhance responsive and adaptive governance processes that reduce vulnerability, enhance wellbeing, and improve forest management. Responsive and adaptive governance are crucial to equitable and sustainable strategies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), and for promoting climate adaptation.


The Initiative trained young, in-country policy researchers in order to build an Africa-wide network of environmental governance analysts. RFGI also invited independently funded researchers from other regions of the world to participate in the program. The results from Africa are compared in the RFGI publications with results from studies carried out by collaborators in Asia and South America to enhance RFGI comparative scope, and to broaden its geographic policy relevance.

RFGI Outputs (see related documents below)


Status: Completed – although a second phase RFGI type initiative is under development.

Note that publications listed below will also be found under other projects since publications have been matched to as many projects as they are relevant to. The Institutional Choice and Recognition research page and the EAA pages are closely related to this work -- democracy and environment. The Working Papers RFGI are only listed here. They have not been listed in other research projects. Please also note that the link to spinoff publications above will lead you to over 100 additional excellent papers by the RFGI team.