Colloquium on Forests and Climate

New Thinking for Transformational Change

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

Colloquium on Forests & Climate: Lisa Goddard and Peter Holmgren’s closing address

Watch Lisa Goddard (Director, IRI, Earth Institute, Columbia University) and Peter Holmgren (Director General, CIFOR) speaking at the Colloquium on Forests & Climate.

Colloquium on Forests & Climate: New Thinking for Transformational Change, Columbia University, New York. #forestsclimate


Lisa Goddard and Peter Holmgren’s closing speech:

Peter Holmgren:

What do you think?

Lisa Goddard:
I was really so interested and very motivated by so many of the comments. Really, a lot of very thought provoking ideas. No lack of things to work on, for sure.
Peter Holmgren:
I kind of like this idea of the ICT and the fiber-optics in the river. And the marketing of products from way inside. I thought, is that the coming into the Amazon or something?
Lisa Goddard:
Yeah, yeah, I agree. I think that a lot of the ideas – well, I really saw several of the speakers touch on the importance of the local to regional issues. And, in particular, some of these ideas of empowering the forest people and the value chains that I think are critical to the success of a lot of these interventions. Yeah.
Peter Holmgren:
I want to pick up on this thing of fragmentation. I think it came from several of you, but I think Dan particularly brought it up towards the end. And I picked up a number of other things that I would like to connect to this fragmentation issue – fragmentation of agendas. And as I also said in my opening, why don’t the Forest Declaration and the Agriculture Declaration fit together? And then three things I picked up from the discussion today was, first, the need of a common language. And a common language of what we mean by success. And that needs to be a common language that not only teenagers and politicians understand, but even economists understand. That’s the trick. And I think we can get there, and I think that will help us pull in more finance to the actions.The second one is that we need to have the courage to bridge the agendas, these fragmented agendas. And I think, as researchers, we can have that courage provided that those that fund us have the same courage. So this is the research agenda coming up. We have the courage. Do the donors have the courage? We’ll see. And the third thing is that, I think, in this bridging the agendas, a key is really to embrace the diversity of solutions. It’s very easy to argue for – actually deforestation is the case. It’s one similar solution everywhere. And it’s a good one. I agree to that.

But we have to embrace the diversity of solution. Are we truly going for a bottom up approach? Then we would have to accept that the solutions look different in different places. And I think that would be another trick to convince the policymakers and the heads of state, et cetera. So those were three things I picked up on the fragmentation issue.

Lisa Goddard:

Okay. I think that actually sets up very nicely some of the final remarks that I wanted to make. And, in respect to I think some of the research opportunities that definitely exist between the Earth Institute and CIFOR for example, I’m going to pick – there are so many. But I’m going to pick the particular comments that were made by both Cheryl and Dan that I think are related. So Cheryl advocates that we really need, you know, better planning tools and decision tools so that agriculture can benefit the forests. And Dan’s words, the need for bottom up, regionally attuned solution to address a lot of these problems. I think those things are related, and I think that they also go to again this issue of working at a local to regional level.

And, in the interest of research and clarity of research – so starting with the research piece itself – the data is certainly critical. And we heard a lot about that. Having the data, having access to the data. But the data is only part of it. We need to turn that into knowledge, and all of our little research communities have their own data and their own knowledge, so we need to bring that all together. The agronomic, the climate, the social, the economic, remote sensing – all of these things need to come together by working together. And so I think that there’s a lot of research in just how those communities work together, how we put our information together, that actually becomes then knowledge and something that can start to build and inform decision systems and planning tools and things like that.

But, in order to do that, then the second critical piece I think – and many of you touched on this also – is partnerships. So we have this research partnership for the future up here. And it is more than just Earth Institute and CIFOR. It’s really the partnership with those local communities, and with the national agencies, and with really the global community that wants to succeed in this problem. So that’s what I sort of distilled out of all of this great dialogue from you distinguished speakers. Thank you.

Peter Holmgren:
Yeah. I just have one short thing to add, and that’s that in the past couple of days we’ve heard from very high levels a lot of talk about taking the forest out of the value chain. I’m beginning to think that that’s actually completely wrong. What we want to do is the absolute opposite. That is, we want to include the value of forests and the forest into the value chain. And I think that there is an interesting twist that we should be working on a bit. So I’d like also to thank you, thanks to all speakers, thank you to the audience who have also provided question to the panel. And I think we, from my part, from CIFOR’s part, thanks again to Columbia, thanks to everyone who had made this possible. And I think we’re ready for some refreshments outside, eventually.
Lisa Goddard:
Yes, thank you very much, Peter. Thank you CIFOR, the Earth Institute, and again, thank you very much to the speakers.

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