How public money can be used to promote sustainable forest management

Public ProcurementThe world relies on forests in many ways. While providing a livelihood for millions of people, and a source for raw materials for all of us, they also play an important role in helping us to control and adapt to climate change, protecting and enhancing biodiversity, soil fertility and clean, fresh water. In particular, deforestation and forest degradation together form one of the main contributors to global warming. Stopping this trend is essential for all these reasons, which is why ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option.

In recent years, global agreements like the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2015) have promised to act on issues that include halting deforestation and forest degradation. Public authorities can act in different ways to help achieve this, including through their purchasing policies, and that is where FSC is able to help.

By making FSC certification part of their purchasing policy and practice, public authorities can require that suppliers of forest products meet the most comprehensive social and environmental requirements in the world. This presents an immediate opportunity to make a difference.

The power of public procurement

Public spending represents between 15 and 30 per cent of GDP in many countries, and is a powerful force for taking action against deforestation, forest degradation and climate change. We have seen many green public procurement policies and practices emerge in recent years. Often starting at the local level, these approaches have become embedded in the national policies of a growing number of countries.

But increasingly, governments are embracing the holistic concept of green public procurement – one that is embodied by FSC certification.

By buying FSC-certified products – which range from paper or furniture for their offices to timber for construction projects – public procurers support the move towards sustainable public production and consumption patterns, also by giving the right example to private consumers.

FSC provides added value, not added cost

FSC products are not necessarily more expensive. When there is a price difference it is often marginal. And FSC certification brings many benefits to our certificate holders, such as a reduction in costs and increased profits, while also allowing greater efficiencies in work processes by choosing a lesser known timber species.

Higher prices for FSC timber typically happen due to direct competition with forest operations that are undertaking illegal activities. Procurers should ensure before making a purchase that the forest operation did not remove more trees than permitted or ecologically acceptable, did not evade taxes; did not ignore Indigenous Peoples’ rights and ensured workers were paid a fair wage in safe conditions.

Contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goals

This type of procurement will only grow in importance. “Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns” is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the United Nations to direct the activities of governments, businesses, and civil society organizations over the next 15 years. Sustainable public procurement is listed as a specific target of this goal, and supporting forest certification can directly contribute to this.

In accordance with the UN’s goals, FSC subscribes to the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns. This global framework aims to enhance international cooperation in order to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production in both developed and developing countries.

The following documents explain in further detail how FSC certification can be used to pursue sustainable procurement practices.

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