The Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Frances Seymour delivered a keynote address titled "Forests, Climate Change, and Communities: Making Progress up the Learning Curve" during the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress, which is being held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 23-28 August 2010.
Seymour began by providing an overview of research on forests and communities, with the aim of drawing lessons for the multiple challenges of integrating climate change into future research. She emphasised that Forestry scientists need to think big, act fast and communicate better if their work is to have an impact on global climate change negotiations and later warned against the "tyranny" of the case study, allowing scientists to build scientifically supported arguments to corroborate preexisting opinions and assertions. She then called for the inclusion of a political economy approach to account for the multiple, often competing, interests involved in forest policy-making.
Her speech then focused on series of open questions regarding: whether reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) will shape or be shaped by the pre-existing political economies of forests; the significance of climate change’s political dominance for community forests; and which institutions are most supportive of community-level adaptation initiatives. .
“In the new context of climate change, we need to understand the institutions and governance mechanisms needed to underpin solutions that yield effective, efficient, and equitable outcomes. How can REDD and adaptation schemes find the optimal position between centralized and decentralized approaches? How do local property rights and other institutional variables influence their effectiveness? What are the actual impacts of forest adaptation and mitigation policies and projects on the rights and livelihoods of forest communities, and how can synergies be maximized and trade-offs reduced?”
Seymour noted that communication with the "climate world" is imperative, underlining that what may be conventional wisdom to foresters might be novel information to others. She then called for forest scientists to commit to "big science," as too much "small think" can impede evidence-based rural policy-making, and stressed that much is to be gained by investing in global comparative studies. The full report can be downloaded from: http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/publications/iufro/25TranscriptofFrancesSeymourSpeech.pdf.