World Parks Congress: Day Two

“I wanted to on the one hand give you a sense of confidence and … to end with an outlook that hopefully gives you a sense of opportunity and the enormous expectation that the world holds when it comes to you as a community.” – Achim Steiner

Day two of the World Parks Congress and the pressure is on. Today’s opening plenary shifted in tone from the welcome addresses of last night. While celebratory, the speeches also served as a call to action, touching on current environmental issues and challenges.

Australian Conservationist Professor Robert Dodson opened the plenary with a call to remember the interconnectedness of humanity and nature and that that connection should drive our problem solving. He also acknowledged that achieving harmony with nature will require a…

The Forest Dialogue Week at Yale

Every morning at 9:00, the administration emails students the calendar of events at the school for the next seven days.  A steady stream of guest speakers, informational interviews, and networking lunches vie for students’ attention.  This week’s Forest Dialogue Week is a prime example of the embarrassment of riches we constantly face when sorting out our daily schedules.

The Forest Dialogue (TFD) is an organization that facilitates discussion and collaboration across stakeholders on the most pressing local and global issues facing forests and people.  TFD Week at Yale brings together international leaders from the forest sector to address current issues in forest management and to build shared understanding and work towards collaborative solutions.  Participants in TFD include activists, industry representatives, community leaders, academic researchers, and of course students…

Seeing the Forest from the Trees: Yale at the Global Gathering

Technology is not a silver bullet. These words of caution are oft repeated but hard to abide by, especially when we are constantly bombarded with new devices promising to improve how we eat, live and even how we think. The promise of “technology for good” is increasingly prominent in the environmental movement, which is seeking momentum to break the stalemate over international climate change negotiations and worsening environmental degradation.

The challenge then is how to embrace new technology with cautious optimism. One emerging tool for consideration is Global Forest Watch, a satellite-based tool to monitor deforestation in near real time, managed by the World Resources Institute. For three days (October 29-31), civil society experts from around the world are meeting in Bogota, Colombia to…

Gender Equality through Disaster & Climate Change Readiness: from Policy to Practice

Right now marks the middle of the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City, the annual taking-stock of Millennium Development Goals as they relate to successes, challenges, and progress for women and girls around the globe. Like many UN events, the annual CSW is two weeks of prepared statements, panel discussions, and working group meetings packed with lofty and generalized language, seemingly perfectly designed to simultaneously aggravate and bore participants.

Last Thursday I was a participant in that process. I spoke at a CSW parallel event put on by the Tzu Chi Foundation, a humanitarian disaster relief organization. I presented on the state of gender equality through a climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction lens, from my perspective as a junior researcher…

A week’s conference just passed. Five days of presentations, discussions, proposals, planning, and relationship building. All in the name of eventually designing a new framework for international forest policy. How did we do?

Where are the trees that we saved from falling? Where the communities whose tenure rights were secured? Did we contribute to increased carbon sequestration and storage? How about clean water provision? Have we helped conserve biodiversity? These are some of the questions floating through my head after a week that—given the format as UN conference—was surprisingly exciting, dynamic, and personal.

The United Nations Forum on Forests is the world’s authoritative platform to develop and decide international forest policy frameworks. Comprised by 197 Member States and situated directly under the Economic and Social Council, the multi-lateral…

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is often discussed in terms of finance. That is, who is going to provide the financing, where is it going and how will it be spent? At today’s 20th annual Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) conference, Eva Garen of the Environmental Leadership and Training Institute moderated a panel of talented practitioners working on “REDD+-like” projects in Latin America.

Kate Horner of the Environmental Investigation Agency reminded the audience that in 2007 when the Bali Climate Change Conference moved REDD forward to REDD+, it was primarily viewed as a policy approach to forest conservation in contrast to the current focus on finance. Horner discussed Indigenous REDD, an initiative of the Peruvian indigenous organization…

The Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF) will host its 20th annual conference at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 2014.

The conference, called “Forests as Capital: Financial Mechanisms for Tropical Forest Conservation,” will explore conservation models that employ both the capital approach (top-down) and local approach (bottom up) to attract financing and generate sustainable revenues from forest resources.

The three-day event, held at Kroon Hall, will bring together representatives from international organizations, governments, financial institutions, and nonprofit groups with the common mission of building markets for conserving tropical forests.

“The visiting experts in the field of finance for tropical conservation will address crucial questions, including what tools are available, where have they been…

Packages of cheese puffs in a grocery store dumpster

Leading up to and at COP 19, I worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists, helping them to develop policy positions related to climate change adaptation and mitigation in global agriculture. Agriculture is a nascent subject within the UNFCCC, but by 2020, global emissions targets relating to both forests and agriculture will be incorporated under a single heading of “land use.” Addressing agricultural emissions will be a significant step for the UNFCCC. The following statistics convey why:

  • According to a recent report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, demand for food is predicted to increase by at least 60% by 2050 – not simply because of population growth, but because of changing consumption patterns, referred to as the “nutrition transition.” Developing countries are rapidly adopting a