Shanghai International Forum focuses on tropical timber’s future – challenges and opportunities

Growing worldwide timber demand, combating deforestation and the need to move to a bio-based, de-carbonised global economy are among topics in focus at the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) International Forum in Shanghai.

The event is titled Together Towards Global Green Supply Chains and takes place from October 22 to 23. It is being held in association with the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association (CTWPDA) and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) as an outcome of its Legal and Sustainable Supply Chains (LSSC) initiative.

There will be field visits on October 24 and 26 October and delegates also have the opportunity to attend the CTWPDA’s Global Hardwood and Wood Flooring Conference, which takes place in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province on October 25.

Rapid transition to a bio-based economy

The organisers cite the latest Special Report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which stated that global climate goals cannot be reached without rapid transition to a bio-based, de-carbonised economy founded on legal and sustainable production and consumption.  At the same time, they say, the gap between global demand and supply of timber is expected to widen to 2050, as wood fibre consumption increases, driven by growing population, notably in tropical countries, and deforestation and forest degradation impacts wood availability.

In response to these market and environmental challenges, many forest-based companies have implemented responsible production and sourcing strategies. However, many producers, notably in tropical countries, face difficulties in responding due to ‘lack of incentives and enabling frameworks’ and limited technical and financial capacity to meet and document compliance with legality and sustainability [requirements]’.

Calls for international cooperation

This, say the Forum organisers, calls for market collaboration and communication.
“There is an urgent need to develop green markets domestically and internationally, enhancing direct connectivity between producers and consumers,” they state.  “This will also promote better understanding of demand, supply and market constraints, while strengthening trust, via which climate and other benefits can be derived.”

The ITTO urges private sector action on these issues to complement efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goals. It launched its LSSC programme to incentivize green markets, support enabling governance frameworks and increase capacity for implementation of good practice. The aim is also to connect ‘committed consumers and producers’.

The Global Green Supply Chain

Under its Global Green Supply Chain (GGSC) initiative, ITTO is also partnering with leading Chinese wood trading and processing operations. The aim is a GGSC Platform connecting international and domestic producers and consumers to increase sustainable wood sourcing and production and ensure sustainable wood supply meets international demand for legal, sustainable and certified timber.

Key aims and outcomes

The Forum will also address how such steps can bring associated benefits; poverty alleviation, employment creation, economic growth and climate change mitigation.

Key goals of the event are:

  • To raise the profile of productive forests and their contribution to climate change mitigation and sustainable development
  • To review the private sector’s role in climate change and development initiatives
  • To identify legality and sustainability issues in wood supply chains and capacity requirements for sustainable forest management and deforestation-free practice
  • To address challenges and opportunities in global wood supply chain demand and supply
  • To encourage development of sustainable timber and wood products supply chains
  • To promote partnership in global green wood supply chains.

The aim of the event will also be to establish an LSSC-GGSC Platform to facilitate business information exchange and collaboration between timber producers, buyers, processors and wood market representatives.

Forum delegates are expected to include; ITTO and GGSC current and prospective members; CTWPDA members with an interest in LSSC and GGSC; ATIBT members, including representatives of the African forest concession and wood industries; forest and timber federation representatives from the Amazon Basin and Southeast Asia; GGSC current and potential donors; and other stakeholders, including representatives of government, research bodies, academia, forest and timber trade initiatives and civil society.

The International Forum will also be a prime opportunity for networking, with business-to-business meetings arranged by the organisers, where required.  Proceedings will be in English, French, Spanish and Mandarin, with simultaneous translation.

For more details and registration contact: Manissa Tanhchaleun or visit