Interest in procurement of wood and paper-based goods from sustainable sources and produced in a sustainable manner is growing. Concerned consumers, retailers, investors, communities, governments, and other groups increasingly want assurances that by buying and consuming these products they are making positive social and environmental contributions.
Today, organizations look beyond price, quality, availability and functionality to consider other factors in their procurement decisions including environmental (the effects that the products and/or services have on the environment) and social aspects (labour conditions, indigenous peoples’ and workers’ rights, etc.). This is known as “sustainable procurement”.
Sustainable procurement can help to:
- maintain a company’s social licence to operate
- reduce reputational risks
- secure sustainable supplies
- promote sustainable practices
Sustainable procurement can also be used to align companies with their stakeholders’ values and make organizations along the supply chain (from forest owners and producers to retailers) more resilient to changing business conditions.
Similarly, federal, state and local governments, responsible for public procurement, are more and more concerned by sustainability issues as are civil society organizations, e.g., green building councils. They are increasingly interested in developing and issuing sustainable procurement policies and guidelines to determine or influence buying decisions by public administrations and sector-specific buyers.
PEFC certification is a standard of choice adopted by numerous private and public sector organizations responsible for procurement and procurement policies.
The PEFC standard is also widely accepted as a legislative and regulatory safeguard, and therefore offers access to markets that may otherwise be unattainable.
PEFC supports and promotes inclusive procurement policies that adhere to credible forest certification systems. Forest certification remains the only proven market-based mechanism to promote sustainable forest management globally. With only 8% of the world's forest certified (accounting for a quarter of the world's industrial roundwood production), there is an urgent need for simple, clear and straightforward demand-side signals to promote the expansion of the global certified area.
The status of forests, especially in low-and middle-income countries, presents enormous challenges, reflecting the larger constraints of a lack of governance, weak policies and inadequately developed institutions. This cannot be overcome by demand alone.
Procurement policies need therefore to be complemented and supported by capacity-building and development initiatives if they are to fully utilize their potential to contribute to the wider challenge of increasing the world’s certified forest area, and the supplies of certified timber required.
Governments, businesses and NGOs should increase and intensify their engagement with forest certification systems to better take advantage of the benefits that certification offers.