Marketing and procurement monitoring in focus at ATIBT Think Tank

Photo: JB Dodane

The fourth Think Tank of the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) gave a wide ranging perspective of the state of the tropical forest sector, covering key environmental and market issues and developments. ATIBT’s Fair&Precious brand campaign and wider marketing of verified sustainable tropical timber were a major focus at the event, which was moderated Claude Garcia, from ETH Zurich. Marketing consultant Bernard Faucon addressed further improving promotion of certified tropical timber in Europe and Hugues Soundat-Boutamba of the Gabonese Embassy in France looked at strengthening communications at institutional level.

There was an update on the work undertaken at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech at the Université de Liège to validate the 10 commitments Fair&Precious partners make to operate sustainably, ethically and legally. The study draws on latest scientific research to demonstrate the commitments’ core linkages to sustainable forest management.

Initial findings from the Thémis project to monitor levels of verified responsible sourcing by European timber businesses were also presented. The initiative launched this year and the results of the first round of monitoring of their members’ levels of verified responsible procurement using the Thémis data collection tool has just been completed by trade association partners in the project; Le Commerce du Bois of France, Fedustria of Belgium and ATIBT (focused on its trading members). Also see the accompanying report in this newsletter.

The latest news on the Dryades project to undertake life cycle assessment on tropical wood products and develop environmental product declarations for them, particularly to underpin their use in construction, was reported by Alessandra Negri and Eric de Munck of Netherlands market development body Centrum Hout.

Another core topic discussed was securing payment for ecosystem services (PES) in the tropical sector, with a particular focus on exploring opportunities in the carbon market. There were presentations from experts at Terea and Eticwood and a look at the Moringa investment fund, which targets agroforestry projects in Latin America and Africa.

Certification in the Congo Basin was discussed from various angles. Coordinator Germain Yéné gave an update on the Congo regional PAFC certification project and Caroline Duhesme of the ATIBT looked at the FSC Focus Forests project on certification in areas of special social and environmental value.

French timber development council the CNDB tackled use of tropical wood in construction, while another conference topic was market development of lesser known tropical species.

NGO FERN gave its view on the prospective impacts of the proposed new EU regulation to ensure deforestation-free supply chains for forest and eco-system risk commodities (FERCs), including wood. This involves for operators to apply mandatory Due diligence. And, unlike the EUTR, the new regulation will include deforestation criteria in addition to legality criteria. The Commission has also foreseen a Benchmarking System to evaluate countries and their level of risk.

There was also a discussion of the outcomes for the forest and timber sector of COP26, where decision makers endorsed the Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which is backed with €14 billion of funding, with the objective of halting deforestation by 2030.

Think Tank delegates additionally heard about plans for the ATIBT 2022 Forum, to be held in Nantes, from Bertrand Faucon and ATIBT General Manager Benoît Jobbé-Duval.

Click the following links to view recordings of the Think Tank; session 1, session 2, session 3.