FSC: Avoid a Rio+20 without steps forward

    Many are concerned that the zero-draft for the Rio+20 Outcomes may lead to a non-event, a dis-appointment for all who expect that in June the governments of the world show clear, decisive and concrete commitment to take the badly needed sustainable development track for the planet.

    FSC can advise on forestry related issues only. The document has just one para (nr. 90) on this theme, calling for the “urgent implementation of the “Non-Legally Binding Instrument on all Types of Forests (NLBI)””. We support that. However, at a global conference giving a real boost to a global green economy, in support of sustainable development and poverty eradication, it is essential to take specific commitments, also to ensure sustainable mobilisation of forest resources.

    We therefore call upon you to, in line with the NLBI, agree on specific actions that link biodiversity and forest protection with green economy. Focus on tropical and sub-tropical rainforests is justified, because of the ongoing forest serious degradation and deforestation, and their devastating impacts for people, environment and local economies.

    FSC calls for inclusion of a “certification support pledge”, a commitment from all governments, acting on the ground and on the markets: governing tropical forests, partners in development cooperation, public procurers, promoters of sustainable consumption patterns in their societies.
    Such a pledge should lead to a considerable increase of credible and effective sustainable forest certification, in particular in these regions.

    We call upon you to, as a minimum, include in the Rio+20 outcomes, as para 90bis:
    We recognise forests as a foundation of the green economy, are aware of the increased demand for forest products and the related opportunities and threats.
    As one tool to combine, in a sustainable manner, conservation and use, we pledge concrete and systematic support for transparent, effective, balanced multi stakeholder governed sustainable forest certification, in all parts of the world, especially in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Each government will do so, where appropriate, for the domestic forests, as public procurers, as educators, and as initiators and supporters of development and train-ing assistance at home and/or abroad.

    Such a support pledge is directly in line with the NLBI, bringing together promoted approaches towards forest management with international cooperation, cooperation/support for private sec-tor and civil society initiatives and provision of market access of “green” forest natural resources.

    A successful pledge can make a big difference for people, environment and economies in the tropical countries. Certification is still there very much underused, compared with other regions. It can not only give a major boost to sustainable forest management, but also (re-)establish thrust with consumers worldwide that protecting the richest biodiversity systems of the planet with giving a social and economic perspective to those that rely on them, is possible.

    Governments recognise that forests are a foundation of the green economy, sustaining a wide range of sectors and livelihoods; that forests also form an essential part of the world’s ecosystems and play a crucial role in mitigation of, and adaption to, climate change. They are alarmed about the ongoing deforestation and forest degradation in many parts of the world.

    They are aware of the increased demand for forest products and the opportunities and threats this will create. Responsible forest management therefore is essential to protect environment, biodiversity and ecosystem services, ensure the respect of social and human rights, guarantee proper wages and prosperity and contribute appropriately to the domestic economies.

    Forest certification is complementary to nature conservation and provides a promising environmental, social and economic alternative to practices that result in destructive forest exploitation and deforestation.

    Therefore, all governments taking part in the Rio+20 Conference, pledge concrete and systematic support and promotion of transparent, effective, balanced multi stakeholder governed forest and chain-of-custody certification systems, in all parts of the world, with special attention to tropical and sub-tropical rainforests. They do this in line with their individual responsibilities and possibilities, towards their domestic forests, as actors on the public procurement markets, as guardians of internal markets, as decisionmakers on consumer information criteria, and as initiators and supporters of development and training assistance at home and/or abroad. They recognise that forest certification can strengthen local economies, ensure the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and local communities and avoid the destruction of forests, their ecosystem services and their biodiversity, and, drive continuous improvements, provided it is based on robust principles, applied through transparent and balanced participatory, multi stakeholder governed, processes, and includes independent, on-the-ground, monitoring, reporting and verification.

    Governments engaged in Rio+20 commit to include support for credible forest certification in their national biodiversity strategies and action plans as well as in other plans focused on limiting or reducing the ecological footprint of their societies, including integrated product procurement policies.

    They will furthermore support the success of such forest certification systems by aligning public procurement practices at all levels with certified forest products and services, as well as promote certified products with their citizens.

    Those governments engaged in development cooperation with other countries, commit to include forest certification in their programmes, supporting the development of forest dependent local economies, social rights, and environmentally sound forest management.

    Full text of FSC’s submission to the Outcomes document, and examples of practical initiatives from governments around the world, on: http://www.fsc.org/2077.html
    Official submission FSC to Rio+20 also on the Rio+20 Compilation Document website.

    Press release