CNV signs sustainable forest management agreement
Businesses, trade unions, social organisations, and government join forces for a sustainable wood chain
This afternoon, representatives from the wood industry, the construction, furniture and retail sectors, trade unions, social organisations, and the government signed the Sustainable Forest Management Agreement in Den Dolder in the presence of the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen.
The covenant is aimed at stimulating sustainable forest management and the further reinforcement of international corporate social responsibility in the entire wood chain.
Minister Ploumen: “‘This covenant is a significant step in the right direction. By 2020 the use of sustainably produced wood must be self-evident in all of the Netherlands, and international corporate social responsibility must be embedded in the entire wood chain. This will result in improvement of the environment and working conditions in the production countries.”
International corporate social responsibility (ICSR)
Arend van Wijngaarden, vice-chairman of the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions (CNV): “The fact that, within a year, we will have a clear idea of which risks concerning the compliance with labour rights and human rights in the chain are underexposed, and that the parties jointly decide how we remove these risks and address violations, is very valuable. That is why these agreements are so important to us.”
The parties want to use this covenant further substantiate ICSR in the wood chain. It stimulates the various links in the chain to actively share the knowledge and experience they have gained through their due diligence study of the social and environmental impact, and jointly tackle any bottlenecks detected.
This covenant also ensures that the extent to which the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the current certification initiatives being identified are in keeping with the basic assumptions for ICSR as formulated in the OESO directives and the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights is recorded.
In places where as yet unhedged ICSR risks occur, concrete actions will be formulated to address these. Leo Hartveld, general secretary of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions (FNV): “Sustainable production of wood starts with the people who work in the forest. They must be able to do so safely and to earn enough money doing so. With this covenant we can expose poor working conditions and other wrongdoings in the timber industry faster and tackle them more effectively.”
The importance of sustainable forestry management
The relevant parties want to use this covenant to contribute to sustainable forestry management. Two-thirds of all biodiversity exists in forests. More than a billion people depend on the forest to support themselves.
Sustainable forests contribute to local economic development, counteract climate change, and preserve biodiversity. However, the business case for sustainable forestry management has not yet been developed strongly enough in many regions in the world.
One of the priorities of the covenant is to make a tangible contribution to reinforcing the business case for sustainable forestry management. Paul Wolvekamp, assistant manager of Both ENDS Foundation: “According to the World Bank, approximately 1.3 billion of the poorest people depend directly on forests for their daily life. Both ENDS Foundation regards the covenant as a tremendous opportunity to combine sustainable wood harvest and trade with the preservation of forests by and for this large group of people.”
Activating the question
Stimulating the market demand for wood from responsibly managed forests is another priority set down in the covenant. The relevant parties will be working on unambiguous, valid information on the environmental performance of wood, making it possible to carry out a transparent comparison to other (construction) materials.
They are also creating an information campaign for consumers and commercial wood buyers with the central message that it is the use of sustainably produced wood that actually preserves these forests.
Paul van den Heuvel, managing director of the Netherlands Timber Trade Association (VVNH): “The adage use it or lose it applies perfectly to tropical forests. Harvesting wood in a sustainable way will allow us to use this renewable raw material for years to come. This fits in with the bio-based and circular economy of the future.”
The relevant parties will also make a start on simplifying the administrative requirements for the use of sustainably produced wood to make it easier for the many SME companies in the wood chain to switch to the practice. Hans Zwaanenburg, managing director of the Netherlands Construction Sector and Carpentry Industry Trade Association (NBvT): “If we succeed in making the sustainable option easier by significantly reducing the administrative rigmarole involved in it, the use of sustainably produced wood can increase faster in the Netherlands.”
The covenant covers a diverse series of wood products. Examples include construction wood such as roof rafters, sheet piling, windows, doors or bridges. It also covers furniture and kitchens. The companies handling supply, processing or distribution are estimated to have a combined revenue of 15 billion euros. This involves companies that import, process and/or distribute wood and wood products.
Dutch Federation of Contractors
Aedes, Association for Housing Corporations
Dutch Construction and Infrastructure Federation
National Federation of Christian Trade Unions (CNV)
Federation of Dutch Labour Movement (FNV)
International Union for the Conservation of Nature, National Committee of The Netherlands (IUCN-NL)
Royal Dutch CBM, Trade Association for the Interior Decoration and Furniture Industry
Royal Dutch Forestry Association
Royal Dutch Association of Building Materials Traders in the Netherlands (Hibin)
Royal Dutch Association of Dutch Wood Companies (VVNH)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment
The Netherlands Centre for Indigenous Peoples (NCIV)
The Netherlands Trade Association for the Carpentry Industry (NBvT)
The Netherlands Association for the Packaging and Pallet Industry (EPV)
The Netherlands Association of Timber Agents (NATA)
Both ENDS Foundation
Timber Research Foundation (SHR)
IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative Foundation (IDH)
International Tropical Forest Foundation
Dutch Garden Industry Association
Dutch Developers and Building Contractors Association (NVB-bouw)
Publication date: 2017-03-22
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