REDD+ (Reducing Emissions, Deforestation and forest Degradation+) is a United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) process through which governments reduce the impacts of climate change through forest conservation in a results-based payments scheme. Distinct from international negotiations about the REDD+ framework under the UNFCCC, there are also REDD+ projects that help governments to set up the institutional architecture, plans and strategies to implement REDD+. These capacity-building projects, in the first phase of 'REDD+ readiness', involve negotiations among national and international actors in which recognition and authority claims are used by participants to influence project-level negotiations. This study analyses the project development negotiations in a World Bank-led REDD+ capacity building regional project, involving six Central African countries between 2008 and 2011. It explores how the project created a 'negotiation table' constituted of national and regional institutions recognised by the donors and governments, and how this political space, influenced by global, regional and national political agendas led to 'instances' of recognition and misrecognition - in which some negotiating parties' claims of representation were acknowledge and affirmed, while others' claims were not. Focusing on Cameroon and Gabon, this article analyses how negotiations shaped full participation by Cameroon and only partial engagement by Gabon.