Contributing to effective climate change mitigation and adaptation
Contributing to effective climate change mitigation and adaptation, covering research on REDD+, land-use change and wetland carbon stores
Markku Kanninen, former CIFOR Director of Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Use of Forests, played a significant role in bringing climate change research to CIFOR.
He warns that a key challenge to addressing climate change is that the current commitments of the Paris climate agreement signatories are not sufficient to reduce global warming to the levels they had agreed in Paris.
He is currently Professor of Tropical Silviculture and Director of the Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI) at the University of Helsinki. Markku is an expert in tropical forestry, climate change, forest ecology, and forest management. He has published over 300 publications, including over 100 internationally peer-reviewed scientific articles. He holds a Dr.Sc. degree from the University of Helsinki, Finland. He has been involved in tropical forest research for about 40 years. Prior to his current position, and his time at CIFOR, he was Deputy Director General of CATIE (Costa Rica) (1996-2003); and earlier the Director of The Finnish Research Program on Climate Change (1990-1995).
He has been involved in science policy dialogue on forests and climate change for more almost 30 years. He has been actively involved in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1990. Currently, he is a lead author of the recently published IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees, and member of the 15-person Finnish Climate Panel. He is a member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters. He received the Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the IPCC in 2007.
Follow Markku on Twitter at: @VITRI_HY
Discover more about Markku’s research at ResearchGate
His professional website can be found here.
In conversation with Markku Kanninen
What was the main focus of your work when you were at CIFOR?I was the Director of Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Use of Forests Program – one of the three programs at CIFOR during my time (2003-2010). I was instrumental in bringing climate change research into CIFOR. When I started in 2003 there was practically no climate change research projects in CIFOR. When I left CIFOR in 2010, the climate change research portfolio was the largest research area of the center.
How have your research and activities paved the way for future forestry-related developments and research?My research and networking activities in CIFOR have led in further research and outreach on climate change and particularly on the role of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation. I have continued my active role at science-policy interface both at international and national levels. I’m one of the lead authors of the recently published IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees and since 2011 I have been a member of the Finnish Climate Panel, a 15-person independent scientific panel advising the Finnish government on climate change issues.
If you could choose one piece of work that would be the highlight of the research you did at CIFOR, what would it be? Why is it a highlight?One highlight would be the co-authored publication, Do trees grow on money? The implications of deforestation research for policies to promote REDD.
Since being at CIFOR, how have you seen research in your field evolve?Research on forests and climate change has expanded exponentially. Personally, I’ve been involved in new research topics in my own research activities, such as climate-related risk assessment in natural resources management.
What future challenges related to your research area do you foresee? How does your research address these challenges?The main challenge is that the current commitments of the countries who have signed the Paris climate agreement are not sufficient to reduce global warming to the levels (1.5-2 degrees) the countries agreed in Paris. We need to find ways and means of closing this gap and moving to negative emissions by approximately 2050. Here, research on forests and natural resources in the context of climate change mitigation can play an important role.
Why do you think that the work CIFOR does on forestry is key for the future of our planet and the people living on it?CIFOR has the ability and capacity to conduct global comparative studies on several key issues related to sustainable management of forests, forests and climate change and other topics.