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Presentation - Making Markets Work for Forests and People, The Sustainable Forest Products Global Alliance

by webadmin last modified Jan 10, 2013 07:42 AM
CJ Elron, USAID Senior Forest Officer and Team Leader, introduces the Sustainable Forest Products Global (Development) Alliance.

“USAID is very concerned about the loss of natural forests and the fate of communities living in or adjacent to such forests. The loss of important habitat, watersheds and carbon sinks contributes to climate change and threatens biodiversity. We need to support sustainable forest management through a variety of incentives, including market incentives.” These words were spoken by Ms. CJ Elron, USAID’s senior forester, in 2004 at a meeting of a Global Development Alliance that aims to improve forest management and reduce poverty in USAID client-countries. To address these concerns and their potential market solutions head-on, USAID established the Sustainable Forest Products Global Alliance (Global Alliance), a public-private partnership of business, government, and non-governmental organizations working together to encourage the responsible management of forest resources, reduce illegal logging, and improve the well-being of local communities.

Entering its third year, the Global Alliance is anchored by USAID’s Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade (EGAT) bureau, and NGO partners Metafore and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The Global Alliance includes corporate and governmental partners such as The Home Depot, window and patio door manufacturer Andersen Corporation, and the USDA Forest Service. Through the Paper Working Group, a project of Metafore, several other companies such as Nike, Inc., Starbucks Coffee Company and Staples, Inc. are also involved. IKEA and an additional 455 companies are involved [or support the effort of the Global Alliance] through WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN). By promoting environmentally responsible harvesting and consumption of forest products, the Alliance reduces illegal logging and helps restore forest and community health on a global scale.

Developments in the Congo Basin demonstrate this approach. Influenced by the interest and support of responsible buyers in key European markets, Groupe Decolvenaere (GD), a forest company based in southeast Cameroon, recently announced that it will work with WWF’s Central Africa Forest & Trade Network toward forest certification and timber labeling. At a joint press conference, representatives of GD, the Cameroon Ministry of Environment & Forestry, and WWF stated their commitments to working toward rigorous standards of forest management and social performance in and around GD’s 344,000 acre forest concession in the Congo Basin, one of the world’s most species-rich forested regions.

Global Alliance partners work with local communities in USAID-client countries to build the capacity of responsible foreign producers to access forest product markets. Despite a growing interest in responsibly produced, eco-labeled wood products it is not always easy to connect interested buyers and producers that have achieved or are committed to achieving sustainable forest management. To assist, Metafore and other NGO partners hosted five seminars on “The U.S. Market for Tropical Wood Products.” These seminars were based on a year of market research conducted by a USAID-funded student from Brazil who interned with Metafore. More than 300 representatives from the forest products industry participated in seminars in Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Peru.

Mauricio Blanco, a Costa Rican wood company executive said, “This seminar has informed all of us to make better decisions about what kind of tropical wood products the U.S. market requires and has also dispelled some wrong ideas that most Latin American producers have about the process that must be followed to export our products.”

Since the formation of the Global Alliance in 2002, USAID has provided more than $5 million in funding, with WWF and Metafore leveraging that funding into just over $9 million through a variety of public and private partnerships. With this funding and programmatic support from its partners, the Global Alliance has worked with 110 companies and concessions in developing countries; collaborated with 26 corporations in developed countries; trained almost 2,000 individuals; and has contributed to almost 30 million acres of forestland under improved and responsible management.

(November, 2004)

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