EII looks to 'usher in new paradigm' in tropical forest protection

September's ongoing Amazon fires and passage of the California Tropical Forest Standard provided the backdrop to EII’s annual staff meeting, held from Sept. 16-18 on the grounds of UC Berkeley’s Clark Kerr Campus. EII's regional teams from Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Indonesia joined San Francisco staff to share ideas and chart out strategies for the future.

EII Executive Director Dan Nepstad opened the meeting by highlighting the need for more innovative approaches to slowing tropical deforestation and meeting global emission reduction goals. “We can continue with EII’s current strategies or we can try to usher in a new paradigm,” he said.

That paradigm is shaped by EII’s core focus on bridge building within and across sectors to help bring jurisdictional forest conservation policies to scale, and to ensure the benefits accrue to those communities on the front lines of forest protection. “EII’s role is to forge the path toward this new paradigm, in partnership with key allies.”

On Sept. 29, EII board members and supporters met in San Francisco for a lively gathering to learn more about EII’s evolving approach to slowing tropical deforestation. Titled, “Tropical Forests and Shared Visions for a Sustainable Planet,” the event featured pecha kucha-inspired presentations by Dan Nepstad, EII Deputy Director Toby McGrath and EII’s Colombia program coordinator, Maria Adelaida Fernández-Muñoz.

“When most people think of Colombia, they think of civil war, drugs, they think of FARC or coca plantations … few people know or understand what a beautiful country it is,” Maria told guests, pointing to images of flowing rivers, lush hilltops and sprawling forest. She noted that through her work she is helping to connect small scale producers in the Amazon to broader markets while pushing to make renewable energy a reality for rural communities.

“These communities need opportunities. We can help give them those opportunities and in that way, help create a path to sustainable development.”

September closed with an important conversation among board members about EII’s five-year plan. Meeting at San Francisco’s Google Community Space, board members built on lessons taken from the staff meeting, providing insight and guidance on issues of expanding market opportunities for producers in tropical jurisdictions to growing EII’s communications efforts and tapping into a new generation of forest champions.

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