Increasing global demand for natural resources is intensifying competition for land across the developing world, pushing companies onto territories that many Indigenous Peoples and rural communities have sustainably managed for generations.

REDD+—which stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries—debuted on the global stage more than a decade ago.

Forestry decision-making is still largely centralised in Guatemala. Nevertheless, elected municipal governments can now play a key role in local forest management. These local governments, with some exceptions, are the principal local institutions empowered to participate in natural resource authority. Some theorists argue that such elected local officials are the most likely to be representative and downwardly accountable. But do these political institutions have the ability to represent the interests of minority and historically excluded or oppressed groups?