My research discusses and analyzes the role of policy entrepreneurs in the national policy-making process. It seeks to explain engagement of nation states with international policies – taking REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) as an example. Focus is on how nation states deal with an internationally proposed policy idea/mechanism; how it is implemented and institutionalized at the national level? My research claims that policy entrepreneurs are key to understanding the engagement of nation states on the international level. While the theoretical concept of policy entrepreneurs has so far been mainly employed by political scientists in connection with agenda-setting and explaining policy change, this dissertation applies it to the larger policy-making process – going beyond agenda-setting. Four variables are derived from the literature as explanatory factors: Framing, coalition building, policy fit and opportunity structure.

The empirical phenomenon observed is the different degree of engagement/ national realization of countries supporting REDD+ financially – the so called donor countries. Norway, Canada and Germany serve as case studies in this most-similar case study design. It is puzzling that all three countries chosen for comparison show differences in engagement despite similar preconditions (long history of international engagement and leadership; resource richness; economic wealth. This leads to suggest that the countries have dealt very differently with the same mechanism at the national level although they internationally agreed to support it. Some valuable explanations are found by looking at the role of policy entrepreneurs and the four related explanatory factors.