24 August 2010: Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), delivered a keynote address titled "Forests, Climate Change, and Communities: Making Progress up the Learning Curve" at the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress, 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 warned against the "tyranny" of the case study, allowing scientists to build scientifically supported arguments to corroborate preexisting opinions and assertions. Seymour called for the inclusion of a political economy approach to account for the multiple, often competing, interests involved in forest policy-making.
She then highlighted a 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. She 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. CIFOR is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).