Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
GEM Initiative at Yale University
Governance, Environment,
and Markets Initiative

COP 21, Climate Law and Governance Day, École de Droit de La Sorbonne, December 4, 2015

At the 2015 UNFCCC Conference of Parties, Professor Cashore and doctoral candidate Chelsea Judy led a group of students selected from the course, Politics and Practice of Natural Resource Policy in developing papers that were then presented at Climate Law and Governance Day
Riddhima Yadav (Yale College ‘18), Jessica Leung (MEM ’17) and Veronique Bourg-Meyer (MEM ’15) presented on the “Identifying Governance Pathways to Decarbonization” panel, drawing on the framework developed by Dr. Kelly Levin, Professor Cashore and others in “Overcoming the tragedy of super wicked problems” (2012). The panel addressed how climate-friendly policy mechanisms can become entrenched over time, with Yale students focusing on specific local policies with the potential to both mitigate climate change impacts and diffuse throughout a greater geographic range.
Students applied multi-goal policy analysis in addition to Levin et al.’s path dependency framework to project potential future outcomes. While the multi-goal analysis addressed​ feasibility from legal, regulatory, and technical standpoints, the path dependency framework drew attention to policy resilience and durability.​Leung’s paper, “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Contra Costa County, California,” addressed how oil refineries in Contra Costa, California could reduce carbon emissions through a dual energy transition plan and youth environmental education program. Yadav’s “Path Dependency in Decarbonization: Water ATMs to address energy-water nexus in Rajasthan, India,” explored the potential of water ATMs in water scarce regions. Bourg-Meyer’s paper, “Policy analysis: Fracking in Denton, TX” analyzed the policies to limit hydraulic fracturing, including a reverse payment for ecosystem serviced and overlay zoning.
The “Pathways for Local Land-use Change and Reforms” panel was convened by Chelsea Judy (Doctoral Student), Michaela Foster (Doctoral Student), Audrey Denvir (MESc ’16), Breanna Lujan (MEM ’16), Carolina Gueiros (MESc ’16), Paloma Caro (MEM’16), Katie McConnell (MESc ’17), Shaadee Ahmadnia (MEM ’16), and Mariana Vedoveoto (MEM ’16). Their collective paper utilized Professor Cashore and Bernstein’s “four pathways of influence” framework in a rapid assessment analysis of three distinct policy mechanisms adopted across four countries. These international instruments, REDD+, legality verification, and non-deforestation agreements, all purport to slow rates of deforestation and forest degradation, but have had mixed impacts. The paper examined how these tools currently function on the ground (where applied) in Indonesia, Ghana, Brazil, and Peru, and how they might operate most successfully in the future by traveling the “four pathways.” Special attention was paid to how non-timber commodity markets for palm oil, cocoa, cattle, and other agricultural products encourage deforestation, and to what extent these drivers would or would not be affected by REDD+, legality verification, and non-deforestation agreements.

GEM at the UNFCCC COP 19

GEM Events

No Events Found
This year’s United Nations climate change convention in Warsaw, Poland (COP 19) featured a packed lineup for the GEM team with workshops, presentations, and the launch of new research and reports. While COP 19 had a heavy procedural focus on creating a roadmap for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, GEM continued to provide rigorous analysis of ongoing policies and initiatives related to forestry, human rights, and climate change. Below is a brief summary of GEM activities at COP 19:

  • In partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), GEM hosted a workshop on “Rights, Climate Change and Governance” at the University of Warsaw, Faculty of Law on November 16th. The workshop convened over 50 scholars, policy-makers, practitioners, and stakeholders from a variety of fields and disciplines to examine how substantive and procedural rights can be used to support, design, and implement effective and equitable solutions to address climate change and related challenges at multiple levels of governance. The full workshop report and agenda can be downloaded below.
  • At the Yale COP 19 reception, GEM launched two publications. The “Issues and Options” series was developed by the GEM Initiative and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) with the generous support of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The papers offers strategic options for strengthening international forest governance initiatives based on insights drawn from political science frameworks to better understand how policy integration and stakeholder learning might improve the practice of responsible forest management around the world.
  • The second publication is a new legal reference guide, developed by the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), Academics Stand against Poverty Network, and GEM, that examines the connections between climate change and human rights, with a particular focus on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The guide was edited by Yale F&ES PhD Candidate Sébastien Jodoin and CISDL Fellow Katherine Lofts and includes a foreword by Yale Professor Thomas Pogge.
  • At the Global Landscapes Forum, Professor Cashore presented “From Land Use to Landscapes: Towards a Multi-level Learning Architecture” on November 17. The presentation looked at the limitations to date of integrating governance across multiple scales, sectors and values and how strategies can be improved to advance the landscape approach.
  • Yale F&ES master’s student Alisa Zomer presented at an UNFCCC side event titled “Implementing Article 6: New Dynamics of Climate Change Education & Adaptive Instruments” on November 18, which was hosted by CISDL and EQPF. Alisa presented preliminary research findings on urban climate change adaptation in Metro Manila, Philippines and highlighted the opportunities and challenges of addressing climate change in an urban setting and the need to enhance access to information and participation in the planning process for the most vulnerable populations

Recap: The GEM Initiative at the Rio+20 Conference

Ainsley Lloyd

As we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, GEM had a packed agenda for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. GEM played an active role in furthering discussion on crucial environmental governance issues by participating in a variety of events, including the anticipated Rio Dialogues.

Professor Ben Cashore set the tone for his visit by asking “what can governments do today?” echoing the pervasive recognition that Rio-like processes have difficulty producing and quickly acting upon effective solutions where global buy-in is necessary.  In several forest-focused events, he sought to advance the idea that legality verification, coupled with domestic legislation forbidding imports of illegal forest products in the developed world, can be an effective means of promoting sustainable forest use today.

On June 15, Professor Cashore began his Rio activities by serving as a panelist at the FSC side event: Certification as a tool for greening economies. There he fleshed out the legality verification case, emphasizing that governments can take action today to nurture and promote better tracking of forest products.  Such verification can provide incentives for good domestic forest governance in developing countries, as it helps purchasers track where timber products have come from and whether they have been harvested legally. When supply chain tracking is matched with legislation forbidding illegal timber imports to, for example, the US and EU, sustainable forest use internationally can be achieved without international agreements.

On June 16, Professor Cashore served as a facilitator for the Forests theme of the Sustainable Development Dialogues. The outcome of this portion of the dialogues consisted of three recommendations: one chosen by participants in the online dialogues, one chosen by the panelists in the live panel, and one chosen by the panel audience via live voting. The top recommendation was to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020. The Dialogues represented a first effort at incorporating a wider range of voices in environmental negotiations, and as such was a valuable experiment.

During his stay in Rio, Professor Cashore also served as a panelist in the FAO/ICFPA/BRACELPA side event “Forests: The Heart of a Green Economy,” and as a distinguished discussant in the UNCSD/UNITAR side event: Learning and Skills Strategies for a Green and Climate Resilient Transition: Advancing National and International Action.

The official GEM side event, “Complex Institutional Frameworks for Sustainability” was co-organized by WRI and IUFRO, and was held on the evening of June 18th. The panel was met with a full audience and an animated question and answer session. The event was moderated by Dr. Andrew Steer, World Bank Special Envoy on Climate Change& WRI's Incoming President. Panelists included:
  • Dr. Alexander Buck, Executive Director of IUFRO
  • Craig Hanson, Director of WRI’s People & Ecosystems Program
  • GEM’s own Erica Pohnan, a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
  • Salla Rantalla, Fulbright Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, PhD student in Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki & Consultant
  • Dr. David Thau, Senior Development Advocate, Google Earth
The official primary outcome of the conference was the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, set to take effect when the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015. While these goals were lackluster by many standards, GEM is confident that via continued collaboration across levels—governmental, non-governmental and private sector—innovative governance solutions can be sought inside and outside the official SDGs.

The Governance, Environment and Markets Initiativeat the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development

Rio de Janeiro, June 2012

When the world convenes in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 to renew international commitments to sustainable development, Yale University will play a leading role as a global university at the forefront of generating new knowledge and preparing new leadership to address environmental challenges and promote sustainability. The Governance, Environment & Markets Initiative at Yale is participating in an exciting program of activities at the Rio+20 Conference.


FSC side event: Certification as a tool for greening economies
June 16, 2012, 11:00-13:00 / Espaco Arena de Barra, Auditorium ARN-2     

Professor Cashroe and Roberto Smeraldi (Director, Amigos da Terra – Amazônia Brazileira) will assess the state of affairs with regard to preparation for the Rio+20 Conference: is the Framework of Actions providing effective tools to halt the decline of biodiversity globally, particularly with regards to forest ecosystems and to promote greening the world economy?

UNCSD/UNITAR side event: Learning and Skills Strategies for a Green and Climate Resilient Transition: Advancing National and International Action
June 16, 2012, 15:30-17:00 / Rio Centro, Room P3-A

Drawing upon the recommendations of the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, the side event brings together decision-makers and experts to discuss approaches and challenges of strengthening human resources and skills to advance green, low emission and climate resilient development. Following introductory statement by panelists, an open discussion will focus on identifying opportunities for action at the national and international levels to foster a strategic approach to learning and skills development that advances a green transition, including possible action at Rio and beyond Rio. Professor Ben Cashore will serve as one of several distinguished discussants present to facilitate the conversation.

A Rio+20 Global Dialogue & Roundtable
June 17, 2012, 14:30-18:00 / Rio Centro

The Governance, Environment & Markets Initiative at Yale is working with the Center for International Forestry Research and the Universidade de São Paulo to foster discussions and knowledge sharing on forests as part of a series of global dialogues being held in the lead-up to, during, and after the Rio+20 Conference. During the Rio+20 Conference, Yale will co-facilitate a roundtable featuring high-level speakers reporting back to governmental and non-governmental delegates on the results of this dialogue.

Rio+20 Side Event of FAO, ICFPA, BRACELPA and Partners
Forests: The Heart of a Green Economy
June 18, 2012, 14:30-18:00 / Ribalta                      

Professor Cashore will serve as a panelist in the half hour discussion “Forest Certification: a Paradigm Shift in Green Economy,” 14.20 – 14.50. Also on the panel are representatives from AF&PA (for a market perspective) and CIFOR, as well as Peter de Marsh (IFFA), Andre de Freitas (FSC), and Ben Gunneberg / William Street (PEFC). The discussion is organized by FAO and other international organizations, and will center around the changing demands on forest certification in the green economy.

Complex Institutional Frameworks for Sustainability:
Managing Conflicts & Promoting Coherence in Forest Governance
A Rio+20 Side-Event
18 June 2012, 17:30 - 19:00, Rio Centro T-3

Leading experts from the Governance, Environment & Markets Initiative at Yale, the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations, the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, the Center for People and Forests, and the World Resources Institute will discuss innovations for managing conflicts and promoting coherence within institutional frameworks that cut across borders, sectors, and issue areas. Drawing on case studies relating to non-state market-driven systems, public/private regimes, and legality verification schemes in the transnational governance of forestry as a cross-cutting case study, this side-event will aim to identify best practices for managing governance complexity in sustainable development.

Global Thinking & Action for Our Common Future
A Reception for Yale Affiliates, Alumni & Friends
June 19, 2012, 19:00-21:00 / FundaçãoGetulio Vargas, 60 R. Barão de Itambi

Featuring food, drink, and high-level speakers, this invitation-only reception will provide an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of Yale to come together during the Rio+20 Conference. To receive an invitation, please e-mail Naazia Ebrahim (naazia.ebrahim@yale.edu).

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