Colloquium on Forests and Climate

New Thinking for Transformational Change

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

To foster new thinking, CIFOR and the Earth Institute issued a challenge to six thought leaders on climate: Tell us your big ideas on how to change the future by challenging the present.

These thought leaders presented their responses in a special high-level scientific debate held on 24 September as part of New York’s Climate Week, Colloquium on Forests and Climate: New Thinking for Transformational Change.

Following the presentations, participants joined these leading climate and forestry experts in debating these fresh ideas, charting the future direction of climate research – and envisioning bold initiatives in forestry, landscapes and sustainability to improve the lives of millions.

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John Holdren

US President Obama’s Science Advisor
webcast Video and transcript
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Carlos Nobre

National Secretary for R&D Policies, MCTI, Brazil
webcast Video and transcript
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Cheryl Palm

Director of Research, Agriculture and Food Security Center, Columbia University
webcast Video and transcript
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Pushpam Kumar

Chief, Ecosystem Services Economics Unit, UNEP
webcast Video and transcript
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Eduardo Brondízio

Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington
webcast Video and transcript
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Dan Nepstad

Executive Director, Earth Innovation Institute
webcast Video and transcript
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Peter Holmgren

Opening, Closing
Director General, CIFOR
webcast Video and transcript

Christine Padoch

Research Director, Forests and Livelihoods, CIFOR
webcast Video and transcript

Lisa Goddard

Opening, Closing
Director, IRI, Earth Institute, Columbia University
webcast Video and transcript

Louis Verchot

Research Director, Forests and Environment, CIFOR

Big ideas

  • 01

    What are the alternatives for sustainable energy supply for emerging and developing economies and what does the landscape need to provide? What role do technology and forests play in the solution?

    webcast Video and transcript

    Speaker : John Holdren

  • 02

    Fossil fuel emissions continue to go up, but emissions from tropical land-use change are declining. This is mostly due to reductions in deforestation in tropical Latin America, equatorial Africa and Southeast Asia. But scientific tools such as models give a glimpse of what will happen if we do not stop climate change – how the Amazon forests might look like in the future. Is what we are seeing in the Amazon the beginnings of a more permanent climate shift due to global warming? How can climate information be improved to support economic growth and solutions for local livelihoods?

    webcast Video and transcript

    Speaker : Carlos Nobre

  • 03

    How do agriculture and forestry intersect and what does that mean for the changing face of sustainable development, land uses, local livelihoods and ecosystems? Is there room for landscapes solutions to bring these issues together?

    webcast Video and transcript

    Speaker : Cheryl Palm

  • 04

    One of the major emerging issues for the global community is the question of how to enhance human capability to bring transformational change toward a green economy. Two elements are critical for bringing about this transformation for the seven billion people on the planet: to organize and resolve trade-offs; and to identify indirect drivers of change such as investment and other macroeconomic factors. If we manage to change the ways in which progress is measured, and at the same time succeed in demonstrating and internalizing the economic worth of natural capital, we have a chance of making the green economy a reality.

    webcast Video and transcript

    Speaker : Pushpam Kumar

  • 05

    Although we have made a lot of progress, our efforts to reconcile development and conservation in forest regions currently rest on unsustainable grounds. We need to confront – intellectually and in practice – several mismatches and misconceptions: a mismatch of governance institutions, a mismatch of values, and a mismatch of representation and expectations.

    webcast Video and transcript

  • 06

    Climate change and rapid growth in human consumption of food, fuel and fiber are driving agricultural expansion — especially in the tropics. This trend could accelerate tropical deforestation, releasing lots of carbon to the atmosphere, making climate change worse. Or, we can get out ahead of this problem and grow more food on lands that are already cleared. To change the crisis into a revolution we need to overcome the intense fragmentation that we’ve seen and we need to find ways to bring sectors together at a scale that actually makes a difference.

    webcast Video and transcript

    Speaker : Dan Nepstad