Washington, DC. - The International Finance Corporation's Latin America and Caribbean Small and Medium Enterprise Facility (LAC SME Facility), and the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Latin American branch of the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) are teaming up to develop environmentally responsible wood trade in Latin America, with a special focus on Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru.
The program, as described in the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, combines forest resource management and sustainable economic development by building a strong business case for exporting responsibly-produced wood products. The IFC and WWF will launch pilot projects linking manufacturers, traders, and forest managers committed to the business of sustainable forestry. The pilot projects will:
- Strengthen indigenous communities and private landowner's abilities to engage in sustainable forest management as an alternative to illegal logging
- Increase the supply of responsibly-produced wood and wood products
- Stimulate demand for products made from responsibly-produced wood
- Improve business management and production of project participants, and
- Promote financing and investment opportunities within supply chains.
The pilots have been designed in accordance with the World Bank's Revised Forestry Strategy, which emphasizes integrating forests into sustainable economic development, harnessing the potential of forests to reduce poverty, and protecting vital environmental services and values.
WWF Central America, based out of Costa Rica, is the Latin American hub for the GFTN. The GFTN was established by WWF to facilitate trade links between companies committed to achieving and supporting responsible forestry - and, in so doing, create tangible market-based incentives for forest conservation. The GFTN currently operates in almost 30 countries worldwide including: Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and all 7 countries in Central America.
According to Atul Mehta, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean at the IFC, "Forging strategic local partnerships is a pivotal part of the Facility's technical assistance strategy. By collaborating with key local stakeholders, the Facility is able to carry out its work program more efficiently and effectively while building local capacity and increase the sustainability of its projects."
Steve Gretzinger, GFTN's Latin American Coordinator, commented, "We welcome the opportunity to deepen our collaboration with the IFC by taking advantage of the complementary strengths of our respective organizations. The IFC's expertise in finance and business development, coupled with the GFTN's ability to assist companies throughout Latin America in producing quality products from well-managed forests for the discerning global marketplace should prove a powerful combination for the pilot project countries, and in the future, other Latin American countries."