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Announcing ONE GOOD WORLD ECOngress: Legal Wood Sourcing and Building Green Markets Las Vegas Market

The Sustainable Furnishings Council and World Market Center, in cooperation with World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council and numerous other leading governmental, environmental, academic and trade organizations is launching the first cross-disciplinary ECOngress on legal and sustainable wood sourcing in the home furnishings industry in conjunction with Winter Market in Las Vegas. All media, materials suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and designers are strongly encouraged to attend all or part of the one-day event on Jan. 31, 2010, the day prior to the opening day of the February 2010 Las Vegas Market, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in World Market Center’s Building C, on the 8th floor, Room C-888. Registration is free.

The event is geared to inform every point in the supply chain as to the importance of known legal origin and responsible forestry for wood products. Participants will learn about tools, solutions, and issues of vital importance given the impending next phase of Lacey Act declaration requirements that will be effective in April 2010. The Lacey Act is a U.S. law amended in 2008 that bans commerce in illegally sourced plants and their products, including wood and paper products. In April, furniture items will be included in Lacey declarations requirements reinforcing grounds for legal prosecution of entities importing, transporting, selling or purchasing products using illegally harvested or traded wood from the U.S. or abroad. Three separate plenary sessions will be held on Policy, Manufacturing and Marketing, each consisting of a series of brief presentations by speaker panelists followed by an in-depth moderated panel discussion focused on questions from the audience. Topics will cover policy changes, legislation and enforcement, engaging with suppliers, securing safe supply, manufacturing and retail concerns, and ultimately how to make it comprehensible and compelling to the consumer.

ECOngress will mark the first time that such a broad array of constituencies has been assembled to address a sustainability concern in home furnishings. Major organizations represented include WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network, UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.S. Department of Justice, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Weyerhaeuser, Savannah College of Art & Design, Century Furniture, Oregon State, Williams-Sonoma, Architectural Digest and a noted ASID-LEED design practitioner. Major environmental organizations World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council and Tropical Forest Trust will also be participating and collaborating in planning for the event.

The sixteen speaker panelists feature some of the world's foremost experts and leaders on the issue, including Richard Somerville, a Coordinating Lead Author for the 2007 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in synthesizing tens of thousands of documents from credible scientific journals around the world; Linda Kramme, Manager of WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network-North America program; Elinor Colbourn, U.S. Department of Justice on Lacey prosecution; Ben Cashore, professor, Environmental Governance & Political Science, at Yale University's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies; and Christina Nicholson, Director of Sustainable Development for Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

"As the third biggest user of wood products, the furniture industry has a responsibility to take a leadership role in legal wood sourcing, and the ECOngress represents a groundbreaking step by bringing together every vital constituency for the very first time to show support, discuss challenges and share ideas,” said Jeff Hiller, president of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, “Leadership is taking action while others wonder 'what if.' The goal of the ECOngress is to identify pragmatic solutions that are good for business and the planet.”

The One Good World ECOngress comes just two months before the enforcement of the U.S. Lacey Act Amendment is extended to furniture. This U.S. policy change follows The Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade of the European Union (EU) encouraging businesses to adopt purchasing policies that exclude illegal timber and promoting sound public procurement policies through voluntary agreements, but the EU has also contemplated regulations to govern the import and trade of these items. A multi-industry conference organized by Rainforest Alliance in September 2009 in Shanghai, China was attended by over 300, further confirming the global scale of the legal wood issue.

“We have actually passed a point of no return in terms of environmental awareness, and although the future of the supply chain looks complicated to all of us, the ECOngress will help us move forward with a plan for sustainable growth, as opposed to leaving it to chance,” said Robert Maricich, World Market Center Las Vegas, president and chief executive officer. “The interest in participating from environmental groups, academia and all parts of the furnishings supply chain has been remarkable for a trade-oriented event, confirming the vital importance of legal wood sourcing, the need for public discussion between all parties and the inspirational ability of responsible citizenship to transcend industry lines in working toward the common good.”

The ECOngress is a component of World Market Center Las Vegas' new wide sweeping program One Good World launching at February Las Vegas Market that includes a sustainable products locator for market attendees, a digital newsletter as well as expanded education offerings featuring celebrity designers who speak about the importance of sustainability in their life and work and their role in SFC's new DESIGNINGreen “why not?” consumer print campaign.

“Knowledge is power but ignorance is no longer bliss,” said Margaret Casey, World Market Center Las Vegas, director of programming. “We encourage all industry players, at every level, to put aside their individual fears and embrace the future in an informed and collective way. The ECOngress gives us a potent platform to do just that and demonstrates that this is an emerging issue not just for our industry but for humanity.”

Registration is free by contacting Susan Inglis via susan@sustainablefurnishings.org or 919.967.1137

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