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

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 discuss how this technology can improve forest management on the ground. This is the Fifth Global Gathering of its kind hosted by The Access Initiative (TAI) and this year’s theme is “Using Information, Data and Technology to Protect Forests and Strengthen the Rights of Forest-Dependent Communities.”

The Yale Environmental Performance Index team will be leading two interactive sessions at the Global Gathering focusing on 1) the use of civic science to track sustainability and 2) environmental rights to information, participation, and justice in cities. Yale is also supporting a team of graduate students to attend the Global Gathering. Below is a quick snapshot of who they are and what they will be up to in Bogota:

Sarah Lupberger is a Master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on strategies for promoting pro-poor and community-based forest management in Peru. At the Global Gathering, Sarah will be interviewing TAI partners from Latin America, Africa, and Asia on the strategies and tactics that they employ in their work and use of forest technologies. Sarah previously worked at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C. and Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales in Peru.

Grace Heusner is a second-year student at the Yale Law School. Grace is interested in climate change and natural resource management issues in developing countries. Before law school, Grace worked in environmental litigation at the U.S. Department of Justice and taught English in rural India. At this year’s Global Gathering, Grace hopes to learn more about the legal mechanisms that can be used at the local level to promote the sustainability of forests. She will be blogging about the conference for the Yale team.

Celine Lim is a Master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies focusing on forest governance and conservation. Her research looks at reconciling agricultural commodities, extractives and conservation, and increasing corporate accountability in applying social and environmental safeguards in the forest landscape. Celine interned with the World Resources Institute, Forest Trends and CIFOR, and worked with a local conservation NGO in the Peruvian Amazon. Follow her coverage of the Gathering via twitter @celinelimjl.

Jessica Webb is a Master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies interested in policies at the nexus of sustainable tropical forest management and rural economic development. Prior to Yale, Jessica was based in Latin America for eight years, working on sustainable agriculture, ecotourism and community forest management. While at the Global Gathering, Jessica is interested in learning more about how technology supporting civic science can strengthen community forest rights.


Alisa Zomer is the Urban Research Fellow at the Yale Environmental Performance Index, follow her coverage of the #TAIGG via twitter @azomer, @YaleEnviro, and stay tuned for more updates and stories from the Global Gathering. This article was originally published at The Metric, the blog of the Environmental Performance Index.