Chatham House has undertaken research into forest governance since 2006, investigating how governments and the private sector have responded to the issue of illegal logging. This has included an assessment of the policy and institutional frameworks in nine tropical forest countries using a standard set of questions, of which a number are related to transparency and accountability. This research, complemented by a review of the literature, was used as the basis for identifying potential countries for more detailed investigation in this paper.
Cameroon and Ghana were selected as the strongest candidates for case studies. This was because in the latest Chatham House assessments, they both scored ‘good’ for transparency in 2018 and there was some documentary evidence of improvements in accountability. Furthermore, both countries have been engaged in the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process (see Box 1) with the EU since 2007, which has resulted in significant investment in transparency and participation mechanisms. Consequently, there is much interest in the impact of these reform efforts.
Cameroon and Ghana were selected as the strongest candidates for case studies. This was because in the latest Chatham House assessments, they both scored ‘good’ for transparency in 2018 and there was some documentary evidence of improvements in accountability.
The research in Cameroon and Ghana employed the ‘most significant change’ evaluation tool. In the initial stages, researchers interviewed members of government, the private sector and civil society in both countries. They were asked to identify examples of changes in accountability that had been driven by transparency improvements. This resulted in the identification of a longlist of potential case studies. A workshop was held in both countries to select case studies for further investigation. The selection criteria were: 1) strength of the links between participation, transparency and accountability; 2) quality and availability of evidence of a change in accountability; 3) likely robustness and sustainability of this change; and, 4) breadth of beneficiaries of the change.
Three case studies were selected: two in Ghana – one on the country’s wood-tracking system (WTS) and one on Social Responsibility Agreements (SRAs); and one in Cameroon, on independent forest monitoring. Research into these entailed further interviews to document the processes of change and the compilation of data to provide evidence of the reported changes in transparency and accountability. Primary data collection took place between August and December 2019.