The extractive embrace: shifting expectations of conservation and extraction in the Guiana Shield

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This paper demonstrates what the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative would have to do to satisfy the expectations of its diverse, local stakeholders. It connects the unmet expectations of REDD+ with a deepening reliance on extractive activity in the Guiana Shield. In it, I argue that extractive activity, which has always been the most significant driver of deforestation in the ecoregion, is further overtaking REDD+’s capacity for meeting expectations and development aspirations due to the combined failure of REDD+ to deliver vast amounts of promised funding to alter unsustainable development paths and the subsequent announcements of major oil discoveries in the territorial waters of the Guiana Shield. These arguments are based on data collected in the early phases of REDD+ readiness through a multi-sited ethnography, analyzed through a combination of Foucauldian discourse analysis and governmentality. I use critical discourse analysis to represent REDD+’s regional interpretations and governmentality to tease out the expectations embedded in these discourses. This combination supports my identification of what REDD+ would have to accomplish to be deemed successful in Guyana and Suriname, the only two REDD+ participating countries entirely within the Guiana Shield. In turn, this identification improves understandings of the relationship between failed or failing conservation and development initiatives and the subsequent intensification of extractive activity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental Politics
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2021


  • REDD+
  • Forests
  • Guiana Shield
  • Governmentality
  • Discourse
  • Guyana
  • Suriname


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