Linda Walker, Director, Global Forest & Trade Network-North America
I was optimistic—but cautiously so—when we launched our Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) North America program in 2006. Would companies be interested in technical assistance from World Wildlife Fund to assess where there might be risks in their wood and paper supply chains that relate to social and environmental impacts? Could we work together to create robust sourcing policies to mitigate those risks and transparently show their stakeholders the progress being made? Could we collaborate on ways to help the companies increase their sourcing of forest products that are certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, which we believe includes the most rigorous requirements for ensuring environmental and social responsibility?
What I have learned is that, for some very influential US companies, the answer is a resounding yes. The stepwise approach to responsible sourcing can benefit forests and companies alike.
Domtar Corporation recently reached a major milestone: selling its five millionth ton of Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified uncoated fine paper. This is a first for the North American market and marks an important step in Domtar’s larger goal of 100 percent FSC certified sourcing.
Talking with companies after my panel discussion at the Tissue World Americas conference, it’s clear that many buyers of tissue and paper products have questions about whether they should reward Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) forest pledge with purchasing contracts.
I’ll reiterate here the advice I gave to these individuals and to any company committed to responsible sourcing: Don’t. It’s too soon.
This time of year provides clarity to what is important in life. I have a four year old son (four and half…he would insist). Seeing his excitement over the presents under the tree, visiting Santa, enjoying all the decorations and the delicious sweets, hearing the seasonal sounds, and sensing the magical charm during this time of year definitely makes me remember the simple joys in life. At four (and a half), my son is watching us closely, clearly starting to formulate ideas on how holidays—and life—should be run in our household. We have a pull-out trashcan with dividers (regular trash and recyclables), which he is always opening the trash to make sure mommy and daddy placed the right items in the correct trashcan. He loves to let us know when we’ve made a mistake. We call him the recycling patrol! And with all the holiday card envelopes and mailing boxes we’re receiving right now, he’s on extra high alert.
We’ve all heard stories about the foolish rich guy who blew his fortune on outlandish cars, homes and yachts. They usually follow a predictable path: He experiences a windfall of cash, spends beyond his means and inevitably plummets into bankruptcy.
This story is being played out on the biggest stage of all: Planet Earth. On the whole, humanity is currently on a natural resource spending binge. At the same time, more than a billion people go to bed hungry every night. Until we balance these inequities, we’ll all suffer the consequences – from the price we pay for food to access to clean water.
Being green in our material world can be exhasuting. Our global economic engine runs on consumer spending. But the more we spend, the more we consume, the more our planet struggles to sustain itself. If we continue gobbling up resources at the current rate, by 2030 we will need the equivalent of two planets to maintain life as we know it.
Reconciling this conundrum may seem impossible. But fear not my material friends, balance can be achieved.
There’s a good chance that you’ve bought into a black market of illegal products. But this is not a blogpost about a massive, global conspiracy by corporations to defraud consumers. It’s about our collective obliviousness to the growing prevalence of illegal products in our lives, and the consequences of the status quo.
Ostensibly a product that was harvested or traded illegally looks and functions the same as a legal one. But a deeper look reveals the hidden costs of illegal products. There are economic and national security implications. Local communities and endangered species are robbed of their homes. Companies and their customers are complicit in breaking the law.
We can no longer claim ignorance and look the other way. Modern information technology equips us with tools to solve the problem.
Oxford, England, the historical town along the River Thames is currently teeming with really smart ideas. Nearly 1,000 “social entrepreneurs” gather each year for the Skoll World Forum, to challenge the status quo and collaborate on solutions to world’s pressing challenges.
Among this intelligentsia is my colleague Jason Clay who’s participating on the Sustainable Sourcing: The Business Imperative panel session on Friday. The panelists will tackle, among other topics, “the role certification can play in creating value for all players in the supply chain.”