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the Netherlands - 23 March, 2017
Signing of the ‘Promoting Sustainable Forest Management’ agreement - Den Dolder, the Netherlands, 22 March 2017 - In the presence of the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, representatives of the timber, construction, furniture and retail industries, trade unions, civil society and the government, signed an agreement that will promote sustainable forest management and further strengthen international corporate social responsibility in the entire timber supply chain.
Minister Ploumen was clear about the benefits: “This agreement is an important step in the right direction. In 2020, the use of sustainably produced timber should be the norm throughout the Netherlands, and international corporate social responsibility must be embedded in the entire timber supply chain. This will then lead to further improvements in the environment and in working conditions in producing countries."
Arend van Wijngaarden, vice-president of the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands (CNV) said: "It is very valuable that within a year we will have a clear picture of underexposed risks regarding human and labour rights in the chain and that we determine together how to mitigate them and address violations. That is for us, the importance of such an agreement." Signatories prove their commitment to fulfil their international corporate social responsibilities in the timber supply chain. The agreement states that they will share their knowledge and experience of due diligence research and social and environmental impacts, and jointly identify the main bottlenecks to be tackled. Also, this will help identify to what extent the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and current certification initiatives are in line with the ICSR principles as formulated in the OECD guidelines and the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights. Where ICSR risks have not been addressed, specific actions will be formulated. Leo Hartveld, General Secretary of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) highlighted that: "Sustainable production of timber starts with the people who work in the forests. They should be able to work safely and earn enough. With this agreement, we can now better expose and effectively address poor working conditions and other abuses in the timber sector."
Signatories to this agreement show that they want to contribute to sustainable forest management. Two thirds of all terrestrial biodiversity lives in forests. More than a billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. Sustainably managed forests contribute to local economic development, mitigating climate change and maintaining biodiversity. But the business case for sustainable forest management is still not sufficiently developed in many regions of the world, and one aim of this agreement is to actively contribute to strengthening this. Paul Wolf Camp, Deputy Director of Both ENDS adds: "According to the World Bank, 1.3 billion of the world’s poorest people depend directly on forests for their daily existence. Both ENDS sees this agreement as a tremendous opportunity to combine sustainable timber harvesting and trade with the conservation of forests and support to this large part of humanity. "
Stimulating the demand for timber from responsibly managed forests is a priority of this agreement. Signatories will work towards uniformly validated information on environmental performance to allow a transparent comparison of wood with other construction materials. They will also organize an information campaign for consumers and business users of timber and wood products, with the key message that the wise use of sustainably produced timber is a precondition for forest conservation. Paul van den Heuvel, Director of the Netherlands Timber Trade Association (VVNH) noted: "The 'use it or lose it’ adage is apt for tropical forests. By sustainably harvesting timber, we can use this renewable resource indefinitely, consistent with the circular and bio-based economy of the future.” Signatories will work to simplify administrative requirements for the use of sustainably produced timber, making it easier for many small and medium-sized enterprises in the timber chain to make this switch. Hans Zwaanenburg, Director of the Dutch Trade Association for the Carpentry Industry (NBvT): "If we succeed in making the choice easier by significantly reducing the administrative burden, the use of sustainably produced timber in the Netherlands can quickly rise further.”'
A wide range of wood products are included under the agreement: sawn timber used for roofing timbers, shuttering, frames, doors and bridges, but also includes wood used in furniture and kitchens. It is estimated that the companies that import, process and or distribute wood and wood products in the Netherlands have a combined annual turnover of 15 billion euros.