Corporate managers will now get powerful help with today’s release of a “Guide to the Guides” - a toolbox that helps them understand and find the best advice on how to purchase products originating from the world’s forests.
Countless resources have been developed to help businesses sustainably procure forest-based products such as construction materials and paper. This proliferation is confusing many buyers.
Now a representative number of these resources have been referenced in an easy-to-use toolbox - which includes a full report that details the top 10 questions that corporate managers should ask when purchasing forest-based products and references to resources for help, a shorter overview report, and a Web site with a spreadsheet tool - released by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
“Finding credible purchasing information around the complexity of the issues - including forestry, climate change, energy, and manufacturing - has always been a maze,” said David J. Refkin, director of sustainable development at Time Inc., who participated in a launch event here today at the National Press Club. “This is a virtual Rolodex of the issues and resources out there.”
The Guide to the Guides will help sustainability managers to define and implement purchasing policies for the entire range of forest-based products, from wood products like construction materials and furniture to paper products like packaging, tissue paper, and countless other products. It details topics such as forest certification, legality, environmental-friendliness, social impacts, and recycled-content percentages, and directs managers to advice on tracing their supply chains, implementing monitoring processes, and many other issues.
“Corporate managers are taking a close look at what they buy because of consumer preference for sustainable products, competitiveness, production costs, and the prestige of having a green brand,”; said Jonathan Lash, WRI president. “We want to help them make smart choices - both for the bottom line and to benefit the environment, particularly in addressing climate change.”
Cassie Phillips, vice president of sustainable forests and products at Weyerhaeuser Company, thinks the environmental benefits match the business payoffs. “Finally having a more complete picture of the landscape will make it easier for buyers to design purchasing policies that fight illegal logging, promote sustainable forest management, and protect the environment.”
Björn Stigson, president of the WBCSD, added, “The idea is that simplified information, supported by specific advice on where to go for the details, can make decisions less complex for procurement managers and help ensure their purchasing supports both sustainability goals and corporate reputation.”
The World Wide Fund for Nature - International, for example, focuses on leveraging the global marketplace to help save the world’s valuable and threatened forests by combating illegal logging and promoting responsible trade between producers and purchasers. It also produced a popular “paper scorecard.” Bruce Cabarle, head of the WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network, said, “WRI and WBCSD have provided a useful toolbox that compliments WWF’s efforts to promote trade based on a stepwise approach to credible certification.”
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 28,000 square miles of forest - the approximate size of Ireland - were converted to other land uses each year between 2000 and 2005. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that 54 countries have lost 90 percent or more of their forest cover.
Encouragingly, forest area in Europe, North America, and China has been growing in the past decade due to reforestation initiatives. However, rapid forest loss continues in the tropical regions of South America, Africa, and Asia, where socio-economic and political problems present formidable challenges to forest conservation and sustainable management.
Lynette Thorstensen, WBCSD communications director, (+41) 22 839-3134, Thorstensen@wbcsd.org
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