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Frances Seymour was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development based in Washington, DC, where she lead policy research on tropical forests and climate change. In December 2016, CGD published her book, Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change (co-authored by Jonah Busch), to promote the importance of forests to climate and development objectives, and the potential of results-based finance. Ms. Seymour also served as Senior Adviser to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, with a focus on halting deforestation and peatland conversion due to expansion of oil palm cultivation in Indonesia.
From 2006 to 2012, Ms. Seymour served as Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), an international organization headquartered in Indonesia, and was awarded France’s Order of Agricultural Merit for her service there. Previously, she was the founding director of the Institutions and Governance Program at World Resources Institute, and served as Director of Development Assistance Policy at World Wildlife Fund. Early in her career, she spent five years as a Program Officer with the Ford Foundation in Indonesia.
She holds an MPA in Development Studies from Princeton University, and a BS in Zoology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Just over a year ago, we released our book Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change. To ensure the widest possible distribution, we are now delighted to make the full book available online for free.
The 2015 Paris agreement incorporates a framework of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (Redd+). Here are three reasons why Redd+ is a valuable tool in the fight against climate change, and responses to three common criticisms of the framework that no longer hold up.
Most discussions of the linkage between forests and poverty—including one last week at the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)—focus on how to increase income to poor households from the harvest and sale of forest products. But at least as much attention should be paid to forest destruction as a pathway to the further immiseration of poor people.
Unilever is the world’s single largest end-user of palm oil, purchasing nearly 3 percent of global palm oil production. Whilst we can not do everything alone , with this scale comes responsibility—to make sure that our supply chains are not driving tropical deforestation, and to tackle endemic social issues such as forced labour and the protection of indigenous people.
Over the last few years, an increasing number of companies that produce, trade, or buy “forest risk” commodities have pledged to get deforestation out of their supply chains. But voluntary efforts by progressive companies will not on their own be sufficient to end tropical deforestation. A “jurisdictional approach” that marries public and private efforts at the scale of political units offers a promising way forward.
The world’s elite—plus a few ringers like me—gathered last week in the small Swiss village of Davos to discuss the state of the world at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Although not formally on the agenda, the issue of tropical forests infiltrated a number of discussions. But first, a quick recap of the meeting’s big themes that provided the broader context.
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting in on a conference on United States-Cuba relations in Havana that brought together experts on the politics of both countries. The conference was dominated by uncertainty over the future of bilateral ties under a Trump Administration. One of the many prospective casualties of a reversal in US policy toward Cuba would be cooperation on the environment.
Why Forests? Why Now? draws upon science, economics, and politics to show that tropical forests are essential for climate stability and sustainable development, that now is the time for action, and that payment-for-performance finance is a course of action with great potential for success.
Climate change threatens the world’s poorest people most. They are least protected from climate-related disasters by savings or insurance, least able to access modern health care when diseases spread, and least able to move to safer locations when storms rage. Preventing dangerous climate change is critical for promoting global development. And saving tropical forests is essential to doing both.
My guest this week is Frances Seymour, our newest senior fellow at the Center and one of the world’s top authorities on the complex issues at the intersection of tropical forests, development and climate change.
In May 2014, Nancy Birdsall, William Savedoff, and Frances Seymour visited Brazil as part of a three-country study to gain insights into the value of future expansion of performance-based payments in other countries. This brief is based on discussions with government officials, NGO staff, private entrepreneurs, and independent researchers in Brazil about the policies and programs that are associated with reduced deforestation and forest degradation in Brazil, with particular attention to the influence of the Brazil-Norway Agreement and the Amazon Fund.
This is one of a series of CGD blogs on tweaks to the SDG targets.
Poor Goal 15. Forced to accommodate terrestrial ecosystems, forests, desertification, land degradation, and biodiversity, it has the longest title among the SDGs. It is one of the only goals that is too long to tweet.
Washington, D.C. (April 16, 2014) – Frances Seymour, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, has been awarded the title of Officer by the French Republic’s Order of Agricultural Merit (Officier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole) for her work as Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) from 2006 to 2012.
The Order of Agricultural Merit is bestowed by the French Republic to individuals for outstanding services to agriculture in public duties or in the practice of agriculture. It also rewards people who distinguish themselves in scientific research or in related publications. The rank of “Officier” is one step higher than the rank of “Chevalier”, or “Knight”. It is rare that the Republic of France bestows one of their most distinguished awards on an American woman.
Seymour received her Officer decoration and a certificate signed by Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll in February at a ceremony hosted by the French Ambassador to Indonesia, Her Excellency Corinne Breuze. The ambassador praised Seymour for her leadership in encouraging dialogue between the worlds of science and policy, developing a culture of impact assessment at CIFOR, establishing the annual Forest Day, and insisting on the highest quality of scientific research. Headquartered in Bogor, Indonesia, CIFOR conducts policy research on the use and management of forests in less-developed countries.
“Your exceptional dynamism, your visionary thinking never prevented you from listening to partners and from remaining open to their concerns. This is a very rare quality among leaders,” Ambassador Breuze said at the ceremony. Importantly, Ambassador Breuze also acknowledged Seymour’s success at CIFOR “would not have been possible without the experience gained previously within the World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund, the Ford Foundation or the USAID.”
On May 1, Seymour will be honored at a reception hosted by the French Embassy in Washington, DC. Remarks will be given by Embassy General Consul Oliver Serot Almeras, CGD President Nancy Birdsall, and World Bank vice president and special envoy for climate change Rachel Kyte.
Birdsall said: “The French Republic chose well when it selected Frances Seymour for this honor. She has been a great asset to us here at CGD, where her work is helping to broaden policymakers’ appreciation of the close linkages between forest protection, successful development and reduced climate change threat. Frances epitomizes the combination of research rigor and practical policy experience that is a hallmark of our work at CGD.”
French Ambassador to the United States François Delattre offered his commendation to Seymour on this high accolade. “It is a great honor for me to welcome Frances Seymour, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, to the French Embassy. I am particularly delighted that she has been promoted to the rank of Officer of the Order of Agricultural Merit in recognition of her eminent contribution to the protection of our ecosystems—a topic dear to both France and the United States, and important to the cooperation between our countries,” he said.
Kyte said: “In a world where we struggle sometimes to find ways to bring science, evidence and data smoothly into policy, and to go from the lab to the field or the forest, through both public and private sectors, quickly, Frances’ career is testament that it can be done.”
As a CGD senior fellow, Seymour leads the Tropical Forests for Climate and Development initiative. Her work has focused on creating a global consensus about the importance of forest conservation and promoting results-based financing for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).
She is also the lead author of a forthcoming CGD report, Why Forests, Why Now?, which will present evidence of the urgency, affordability, and feasibility of rich country support for reducing deforestation to improve rural livelihoods and avert catastrophic climate change. In addition she is a member of a CGD working group that is identifying means for rapidly scaling up pay-for-performance finance for forest conservation.
The Center for Global Development: CGD works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community to make the world a more prosperous, just, and safe place for all people. As a nimble, independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank, focused on improving the policies and practices of the rich and powerful, the Center combines world-class scholarly research with policy analysis and innovative outreach and communications to turn ideas into action.