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PEFC Chair Receives Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award

Jun 20 2012

Today PEFC Chair, William Street, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award for his efforts on behalf of IKEA's workers in Danville Virginia, USA.

bill-bigThe award is bestowed by an independent NGO, American Rights At Work and recognizes those who advance human rights for workers.  Bill shares the award with Per-Olof Sjöö, President of the Swedish Union, GS.

“PEFC is honored that our Chair has received this recognition,” announced PEFC Secretary General, Ben Gunneberg.  “It comes as no surprise to us who work with Bill on a regular basis.  During his term as PEFC Chair we have strengthened and clarified some of our fundamental core values pertaining to the social aspects of sustainable forest management.  From the top down PEFC is today a leader in social standards thanks to Bill’s guidance."

"PEFC has a Board that is gender and geographically balanced, with a wide range of representatives from indigenous peoples' organizations, NGO’s, small family forest land-owners and of course labor unions.  I look forward to continuing to advance the notion that people are at the center of sustainable forest management.  I am also pleased that Bill is the sole nominee to continue another three year term as Chair of PEFC,” he said.

“It is indeed an honor to be recognized for this work,” said William Street.  “There are many commonalities between promoting humans rights for workers and the work of PEFC.  As a voluntary non-profit independent forest certification organization dedicated to a bottom up approach I have had the pleasure to watch our newest members like the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme embrace the fundamental ILO core labor standards and require them even when their national legislation does not.  PEFC forest certification can be an important tool to advance human rights for those who live and depend on forests.  I am proud of PEFC’s work in this area and expect it to continue to build the capacity of and help forest dependent families for decades to come. However it is the Swedwood workers who deserve the credit since they took the risks.  ”


American Rights At Work is an independent NGO dedicated to promoting human rights through advocacy and recognition of activities that promote free choice, freedom of association, and the right to bargain.  They have issued the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award for 8 years.  The Award honors the human rights work done by Eleanor Roosevelt throughout her life.

Eleanor Roosevelt was Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights that on 8 December 1948 lead to the adoption by the UN of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Article 23 of the Declaration recognizes that favorable conditions at work and protection against unemployment, equal pay for equal work, and a living wage are required for human dignity and are fundamental human rights.  It also specifically cites the right to join trade unions as necessary for human rights.


William Street is Chair of PEFC, the world’s largest forest certification system  located in Geneva Switzerland.  Bill is also the Chief of Staff of the Woodworkers Department of the Machinists Union – IAMAW.  Prior to that he was Director of the Global Wood and Forestry Program for Builders and Woodworkers International, the global union federation in Geneva, Switzerland responsible for construction, wood, and forestry unions.

Mr. Street has a Master’s of Science Degree from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Arts from Mansfield State University in Pennsylvania.

As a lifelong advocate for social justice, Bill has been involved in the civil rights struggle and the anti-war movement in the US as well as advocating for public employees as a labor market economist member of SEIU Local 503 and as Director of Research for the International Woodworkers of America.  He has also written on the subjects of poverty and forestry.

Bill is married to Bridget Downey and has two sons, Samuel and Matthew Street.  He was raised in Perkasie, PA and now resides in Milwaukie, OR. USA

PEFC Certified

Forests area: 307 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): > 20,000

(as of September 2018)

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