Director General for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Peter Holmgren, speaks on behalf of the Forum organizers at the high-level closing plenary session from the second day of the Global Landscapes Forum 2015, in Paris, France alongside COP21.

The closing ceremony takes a closer look at some of the initiatives that emerged through the Forum and offers a space for tracking progress as well as outlining next steps.

Peter Holmgren reflects on how the landscapes approach links to broader development goals and how it could effect impacts on the ground.

Sunday, 6 December 2015
Global Landscapes Forum, Paris, France
#GLFCOP21 #ThinkLandscape


There’s really only one thing left to do and that is to close this year’s Global Landscapes Forum. But I’d like to do that by reflecting a little bit on the past and maybe on the future as well.

It’s only three years since we started the Global Landscapes Forum, and for those you that were involved at that time (this was in Warsaw) you will remember it wasn’t easy. There was a great deal of mutual suspicion between the forestry crowd, who had done the Forest Day, and the agriculture crowd, who had done the Agriculture Day.

But we did it anyway. And you could see already in Warsaw that the forestry crowd – they kind of looked at the agriculture sessions, and the agriculture people – they looked at the forestry sessions. It was beginning to integrate. Then, that continued in Lima. The integration happened, a lot more discussion, and we moved on to Paris and it’s been fantastic here.

We have new disciplines, sectors coming into the forum: energy, water, law, finance. And I think we’re now truly looking at a landscapes forum that is looking across those different disciplines, sectors, values that we need to do. Somebody said that COP had 150 high-level heads of state. I would say that we’ve had 3,000 level-headed minds of high state.

And thinking about the future, GLF21 will be in the year 2033, if I calculate correctly. Some of us will still be around, maybe. What do we need to think about for taking on this journey into the future? As we evaluate this forum, I think there are four things that I would highlight.

The first one is: are we keeping the high ground of the thinking behind the landscape approach? And I think we are. I talked about values in the opening and I think we’re really broadening and taking the perspective that this is about sustainable development at large. And it’s about values that way beyond Mark’s values that he talks about all the time. Finance is important, but there are many other values that go into the landscape as well. On that first point, I think we are keeping to the higher ground and we are speaking with more and more authority about the landscape approach.

The second point is: are we impacting ourselves? In the sense, do we as individuals change through this process? And I think we do. I think all of us are learning as we go. We are getting new inputs from different disciplines that we hadn’t heard about. And we’re putting things together. We’re making up our own minds about this and improving our own understanding and thinking about landscapes. So that works.

Thirdly: are organizations that we represent also changing in this direction? I think so too. I think all of the organizations we represent are learning from this process. Putting it into context for their specific mandates: at CIFOR, we’re doing it from a forestry perspective and all of you represent other types of organizations. And I think we’re all building this thinking into our fabric.

The fourth point, however, is one area where I think we need to consider a little bit more and that is: are we having an impact on the ground? Are we taking all this fantastic knowledge, thinking, experience, dialogue, into actual change on the ground? And I guess the best answer to that is: we don’t really know.

I think we should look at that side of things. I think we should, first of all, understand better what impact we have. But second, I think we should probably, as we design future landscapes forum, specifically look at how can we improve actual impact on the ground. And thereby improve the whole setting and the whole way of moving forward with the forum. I think that’s really essential.

So that’s what we’re going to dive into after the Christmas break, I guess. Together with all our partners, together with all of you that have been here. There will be evaluations coming out and we hope that all of you will respond to those in a very constructive and forward-looking way.

So it’s been great to see you all here. I can’t see you right now, but it’s been great to have you all here. I look forward to interacting with you a lot in the future as well. So, first of all, a big hand for all of you for making this forum a success.

2015 Global Landscapes Forum: Peter Holmgren – Closing Keynote

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