Colloquium on Forests and Climate

New Thinking for Transformational Change

24 September 2014, Alfred Lerner Hall, Columbia University, New York


The Colloquium on Forests and Climate: New Thinking for Transformational Change was a high-level scientific discussion held on the sidelines of the UN Climate Summit in New York City on 24 September 2014. The event was jointly organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

We are now more than a decade into the 21st century and new issues and challenges are emerging for forestry, agriculture and fisheries. The most recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spell out clearly the magnitude of the climate change challenges and that previous models of economic development are no longer sufficient. In light of globalization and modernization, development paradigms must evolve to consider ecosystems and landscapes and to develop efficient and effective pathways of change.

Environmental degradation, the continuing loss of tropical forests, and the way degradation and decline of ecosystem services undermine the poor and marginalized members of society are not acceptable – and yet neither is it acceptable to maintain the status quo in developing countries and emerging economies, given the imperative for making progress toward economic prosperity. Overcoming challenges requires full recognition of the fundamental and combined roles of sustained ecosystem services and increased rural prosperity.

This Colloquium comes at a time when regulators, policymakers, entrepreneurs and civil society are calling for informed assessments and discussion of the state of forests, climate and society.

Participants in the event explored current understandings of the multiple objectives, trade-offs and risks at play in a forests–landscapes–climate nexus, and they joined in a debate about the implications of those understandings and rationales for a wide range of mitigation and adaptation policies and interventions.

The debate examined issues such as the current agricultural development paradigm, and the implications of increased large-scale plantations of global commodities, food and energy security, economic incentives for environmental services (PES), and governance of rights and land tenure. The discussion was set within the context of the green economy and low-emissions development in an era of rapid urbanization.

Read more about our speakers and agenda.