Mistrust and conflict between government departments and local stakeholders form a major barrier to effective natural resource governance in South Asia. In Pakistan, mistrust between forest officials and forest users has led to tension in joint forest management programmes. In Nepal, differing perspectives and mistrust on land reform among political parties, the state, and local people have made it difficult to make progress on land reform. In both countries, state agencies are often viewed as opposing people’s rights. To overcome this problem, facilitation through a neutral mechanism for engagement and dialogue with the state, political decision-makers, and local actors is needed.