International forum creates network to encourage global green timber supply chains

29 October 2019, Yokohama, Japan

Private sector representatives stand in support of the network to encourage global green timber supply chains. Photo: CTWPDA

An international forum of forest enterprises, timber associations, governments and intergovernmental organizations has agreed to create a voluntary network among forest managers, producers, traders, the processing industry and consumers to add value to forests through the recognition of their economic, social and environmental values and the incorporation of legality and sustainability in all forestry operations.

The Global Green Supply Chain (GGSC) Network, which will be maintained by a coalition of forest companies and other wood-industry stakeholders committed to work together towards legal and sustainable supply chains, received support in a statement by companies pledging to help build “a collaborative network of global green supply chains to promote the sustainable development of forest industries and contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of global forest resources”. The network is open to all interested parties worldwide, including stakeholders in producer countries and along supply chains to the consumers of final products.
The international forum—the first global dialogue on how to improve timber supply chains and make them legal and sustainable—was attended by more than 350 people, including major players in the tropical timber industry and trade.
ITTO, the lead co-organizer of the international forum, has a mandate to promote sustainable forest management (SFM) and the expansion and diversification of tropical timber trade from legal and sustainable sources. It has helped lead the GGSC initiative through its Legal and Sustainable Supply Chains Programme (LSSC). The other co-organizers of the forum were the 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). All four co-organizers committed to supporting and facilitating the establishment and operation of the GGSC Network.

“The development of global green timber 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.
“In so doing it will bring benefits to all stakeholders, from governments and forest owners in the tropics to end-consumers, and it will help us solve some of the world’s most urgent problems.”
Forum participants heard that the world is facing unprecedented environmental challenges, including climate change, deforestation, species extinctions and desertification.
“We know that forests, and especially tropical forests, contain extraordinary biodiversity, are crucial for efforts on climate-change mitigation, and have huge cultural importance for indigenous and other traditional peoples,” said John Leigh, Chair of the International Tropical Timber Council.
“Yet the land they occupy is also valuable for farming, ranching, mining and urban development. To minimize the risk of losing the forests, therefore, it is imperative that they generate substantive economic benefits for income, jobs, livelihoods and development in general. This is why we need green supply chains to ensure stable supplies—domestically and internationally—of legal and sustainable timber from sustainably managed forests.”
Among other things, forum participants discussed how to harness the role of the wood industry to mitigate climate change; the increasing demand for wood products globally; efforts to ensure legality and sustainability in global wood supply chains; and how to move forward in the development of global green supply chains.
“The industry faces many challenges in the global adoption of green timber supply chains,” said Zhu Guangquan, Chief Expert of CTWPDA. “It requires a spirit of partnership throughout the industry and, ultimately, all actors will benefit.”
The GGSC Network will foster closer collaboration and exchange between all partners in global supply chains by sharing information and enhancing collaboration and know-how.

Improving the image of the forest sector
A key topic of discussion during the international forum was the lingering perception among many people worldwide that logging causes deforestation and therefore the forest industry is a destructive agent. Changing this perception is crucial if wood-based products, and the forest industry, is to play its role in mitigating climate change.
There was apparent consensus among participants that a main priority should be to eliminate illegality, because illegal timber ruins the reputation of the entire sector and acts as a brake on increasing prices for legal timber and thereby increasing the competitiveness of sustainable forest management as a land use. Another key is building trust among stakeholders in timber supply chains, which can best be done through open dialogue and transparent processes.
Demonstrating—through green supply chains—that wood-based materials are from legal and sustainable sources could be the decisive factor. “Do this,” said one speaker, “and the world is the oyster for wood-based products”.
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