Understanding ‘Deforestation-Free’: Panel and Reception with Practitioners

During the afternoon following the conclusion of TFD’s scoping dialogue on Understanding Deforestation-Free, a panel on the same topic provided students an opportunity to learn about and grapple with the meaning and impacts of deforestation-free commitments. The scoping dialogue itself was closed to outside observers, so the panel provided a venue for a report out on some of the learnings from the dialogue and interaction with dialogue participants.  The knowledgeable and highly experienced panel was composed of the following leaders from industry, NGOS, and civil society:

Robin Barr, Director, The Forest Trust
Robert Hrubes, Exective VP, Scientific Certification Services
Ghan Shyam Pandey, Coordinator, Global Alliance of Community Forestry
Rod Taylor, Director of Forests, WWF
Darrel Webber, Secretary General, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

Questions from the student audience covered topics such as how to define “forest” and “deforestation” for the purposes of policy interventions and the role of different societal actors in promoting, monitoring, and verifying commitments.  One particularly interesting point in the panel discussion came when Darrel Webber, the Secretary General of the RSPO, highlighted the need for multiple strategies operating in parallel to achieve the desired level of deforestation reductions.  

“Deforestation-free commitments represent disincentives to deforest.  While valuable, it is important to recognize that these approaches are not the same as incentives to preserve forests.  If we wish to conserve our forests, we need to think about new strategies to incentivize the preservation of forests, particularly for local people.”   - Darrel Webber, RSPO

TFD organized the panel in collaboration with the Governance, Environment, and Markets Initiative, the Yale student chapter of the Society of American Foresters, and the Extractive Industries Working Group.  On behalf of all of our partners, TFD would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the panelists for their active engagement with the Yale community on this timely and important topic.

The event took place on Wednesday, 10/29, at 4-6 pm at the Greenberg Center (391 Prospect St., across from Marsh Hall) and was open to all Yale students.