Parting advice at CIFOR 8th Roundtable on Forests

I will be moving to Indonesia in August to undertake a yearlong fellowship, and so today I thought it would be a good idea to attend the Center for International Forestry Research’s 8th Roundtable on Forests today in order to introduce myself to my new neighbors on Java.

Imagine my surprise when, after an afternoon of refreshingly candid presentations, outgoing Executive Director Frances Seymour closed the session by announcing this would be her last turn at the microphone as the head of CIFOR and she wanted to offer advice to the audience.

Her advice was to encourage all the young women in the audience to aspire to leadership positions in the forestry world, joining the likes of Wangari Maathai and Elinor Ostrom, bringing perspectives to the table…

I feel very privileged to attend this year’s Earth Summit! I had a close mentor that was part of the Nigerian delegation in 1992, and I can still remember the global momentum that was unleashed at the time as the world sought to aspire for sustainability.

In retrospect however, I am also critical of what has or has not happened in the last 20 years and what may or may not happen in the next 20 years.

In this year’s summit, I will work with NRDC to gauge country delegations level of commitments. I will also observe the role and impact of other major groups and Brazil; to note their sense of urgency to act and to set a legacy for the next 20 years.

There is…

Hope For The Best...

The Republic of Vanuatu is an archipelago of more than one hundred islands floating in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean; all of these islands combined would roughly equal the land area of Connecticut and Rhode Island together.  As a Small Island Developing State the people and the government of Vanuatu face numerous challenges towards their environmental, social, and economic development.  While it’s true that their natural resource base is constrained by their terrestrial boundaries, there is no reason why these resources could not be used wisely and improve both their human and financial resources in the process.  The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is attempting to address this very issue, but I am eager to see how the agreements decided here in Rio will affect the lives…

I am fortunate enough to have landed in Rio to witness the history in making. After having read all about the 1992 Earth summit as a part of our course work and followed the preparatory meetings for the Rio+20 in New York it is indeed exciting to be here to see hours and hours of negotiation come to fruition. As an intern for the Nepal Mission through our Environment Diplomacy Practicum class I got to see part of the under belly of negotiations. The twenty page text that was initially compiled from hundreds of submission came out in the early 2012 seems like a long time ago. Since then it gone through several revisions, proposals, streamlining, combining and editing expanding it to 300 pages and now down to 80 pages…

The Future We Want

Rio’s winter sun lightly bakes my face as I step off the shuttle bus outside of the conference center. Orange silk contrasts with mahogany skin as a woman in a kaftan walks out from the entrance.   “One less nuclear power plant!” advocates the t-shirt of a Korean activist as we stand in line to receive our conference badges. Excitement radiates in the air in the quickness of steps—boots, heels, flip-flops—and the animation of exchanges. We are here as a collective because we want to realize the survival and flourishing of our plant earth.

As a Yale student I have studied international environmental governance, landscape ecology, the science of air pollution, and environmental policy. I am very familiar with the dire straits our planet is in, from overfishing to tremendous…