In a statement, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Forest Solutions Group (FSG), which consists of 26 companies responsible for nearly 40% of annual global forest, paper and packaging sales, says it recognises that reducing forest loss and degradation is a global societal priority requiring immediate and concerted action.

The group issued the statement at the WBCSD Council Week in Istanbul last week in response to estimates claiming that global demand for wood and paper-based products will triple by 2050.

To ensure that the supply of independently-verified sustainable wood and other forest products continues to increase to meet growing demand, all 26 WBCSD FSG member companies, which include Weyerhaeuser, AkzoNobel, SC Johnson, Unilever and UPM, have committed to a number of initiatives.

These include working with stakeholders to spread sustainable forest management, support and promote the expansion of forest certification, set 2020 targets to increase the use of certification when sourcing forest products and fibre and grow markets for certified forest products.

WBCSD managing director James Griffiths said: “The WBCSD Forest Solutions Group’s leadership statement calls on all stakeholders to join forces to innovate and grow markets for sustainably-produced forest products. Approaches to expand, reach and impact existing certification standards should better address the needs of small forest owners, community forestry, indigenous peoples and agroforestry operators”.

Speaking at the WBCSD Council Week, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) secretary general Ben Gunneberg said: “The statement highlights the value that business derives from forest certification systems such as PEFC in promoting responsible forest management and providing certified material to meet the growing demand for sustainably-sourced wood.

“Forest certification has become an integral part of the business operations of leading companies, and we are looking forward to working with WBCSD members on concrete action to expand forest certification and grow the markets for certified products.”

The WBCSD statement follows a set of guidelines published earlier this year by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), which brings together more than 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders across 70 countries with combined sales of €2.5trn.

The guidelines aim to support the CGF resolution to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020 and recommend PEFC-certified products as providing companies with verification for legality, low risk of controversial sources contributing to deforestation and sustainable forest management.

Leigh Stringer

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