The creation of an international, pan-industry coalition to enhance forests’ multiple values and drive forest and timber sector legality and sustainability was agreed at the recent forum, Together Towards Global Green Supply Chains. Another outcome of the Shanghai meeting was a cooperative agreement between organisations representing Asian and European businesses active in the Gabon forest sector.
The forum drew a 350-strong audience from around the world, including major operations in the tropical timber products industry and trade. It was co-organised by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association (CTWPDA), the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT), and China’s Center for International Forest Products Trade/National Forestry and Grassland Administration (CINFT/NFGA).
Speakers said the world is facing unparalleled environmental risks and challenges. Forests were both threatened by climate change and wider environmental degradation, and at the same time held potential solutions for both. They needed protection and the forestry and timber sectors could be key to delivering it.
“Forests, especially tropical forests, contain extraordinary biodiversity, are crucial for climate-change mitigation, and have huge cultural importance,” said John Leigh, Chair of the ITTO. “Yet the land they occupy is also valuable for farming, mining and urban development. To minimize the risk of losing forests, it’s imperative they generate economic benefits for development, income, jobs, and livelihoods. This is why we need green supply chains to ensure stable supplies of legal, sustainable timber from sustainably managed forests.”
The new coalition, the Global Green Supply Chains Network, is open to forest companies and other timber sector stakeholders in producer and consumer countries. It pledges to ‘promote sustainable development of forest industries and contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of global forest resources’.
The network is open to others along the supply chain to join, through to consumers. It will promote exchange and business and technical cooperation across forestry and timber sectors. The Shanghai Forum organisers also committed to back it, with ITTO bringing the support of its Legal and Sustainable Supply Chains Programme.
“The development of global green supply chains will enhance the production, processing, distribution and consumption of legal and sustainable timber and forest products, including tropical timber,” said ATIBT president Robert Hunink. “It will bring benefits to all stakeholders and help solve some of the world’s most urgent problems.”
“The industry faces many challenges in global adoption of green wood supply chains,” said Zhu Guangquan, Chief Expert of CTWPDA. “It requires a spirit of partnership throughout the industry.”
Next steps in development of the network will be sharing experiences of the existing Global Green Supply Chain (GGSC) platform in China and creation of an open access information database incorporating the Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN). Participants will also support inter-business communication and exchange, with monthly publication of GGSC Network updates and timber and wood products market data. In addition, an entrepreneurs and private-sector expert team will be formed to feed in its views.
“From ITTO’s perspective, the significance of the new Network will be determined by how successfully it is managed, while it is aimed to attract stakeholders who are committed to being part of legal and sustainable supply chains (LSSC),” said ITTO Director Operations Sheam Satkuru. “The participation and support from a select group of the Chinese forestry and wood products sector can be seen as catalytic towards establishing legal and sustainable supply chains and the network is foreseen to expand to several regions globally.”
Also in Shanghai, the Union of Forest Industries and Managers of Gabon (UFIGA) and the Union of Asian Forest Industries of Gabon (UFIAG) agreed to extend their cooperation in support of the GGSC Initiative. All Gabonese forest industries committed to work towards independent third party certification of legality and/or sustainability over the next three years. “This is crucial to achieve a much needed level playing field, and at the same time to improve the image of our industry,” said Mr Hunink. “ATIBT will try to convince governments and federations in other Congo Basin countries to follow suit.”
“ATIBT and the CTWPDA also signed an agreement in Huzhou, China, [venue for the CTWPDA wood flooring and hardwood conference, following the Shanghai meeting] to intensify exchanges on sustainable management and responsible supply chains,” said ATIBT Managing Director Benoît Jobbé-Duval, adding that his organisation will also work closely with the GGSC Secretariat in China.