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International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:

Forest products industries at the core of the ?green economy?

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations? (ICFPA) is an organisation representing the forest, wood and paper sector globally. Its membership includes the trade associations of 43 countries. Members represent industries accounting for more than 90 percent of the world?s paper and more than 50 percent of the world?s wood production. ICFPA members represent an industry in transformation delivering an increasingly wide range of products - including textile fibre, chemicals, new materials, functional products, food additives, solid biomass, liquid and gaseous fuels, etc. all made of a natural renewable raw material, wood.
The ICFPA is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to working with other stakeholders to ensure that environmental, social and economic benefits of our natural resources are available to current and future generations. ICFPA Members are committed to legal, certified forestry and procurement practices.

The global forest products industry contributes more than US$ 470 billion annually to global GDP and employs over 14 million people in almost every country in the world.

The forest sector and the green economy

Commonly agreed definitions of green economy include elements that are already today mirrored by the forest products industries:

? Delivery of better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments
? Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
? Resource efficiency
? Waste reduction
? Reduction of social disparities

Through numerous commitments and actions, the industry demonstrates on a daily basis its contribution to the green economy from the ?cradle? to the ?grave? of its products.

It is committed to sustainable forest management. Since 2000, ICFPA members have realised a 346% increase in the total area of certified responsibly managed forests, reaching a level of 273 million hectares of forests certified. 53% of the wood supply used by ICFPA member companies was certified in 2010.

It is truly bio-based. The industry represented by ICFPA uses wood as its main raw material, hence making it an industry using a natural renewable resource. Depending on the production, all qualities and wood assortments are used, including the bark and the branches.

It provides jobs to local communities, especially in rural areas. Since the wood processing mills ? whether it is for veneer, fibreboards, pulp and paper or other wood-derived products ? are located close to their raw material sources -- forests -- they contribute to the rural livelihood by maintaining rural infrastructures (e.g. roads, railways, etc.) and services (e.g. public transport, schools, hospitals, etc.) and offering jobs. By relying on managed forests and the raw material they deliver, they are also a source of income for local population and small businesses depending on forests.

It contributes to social and society?s well-being. The wide range of products delivered by the forest products industries to society contributes to people?s well-being and improved living standards: comfort and warmth thanks to reliable construction materials offering excellent mechanical properties and decorative features, literacy and culture thanks to paper being the material support to literature, culture and education resources, hygiene thanks to packaging protecting goods and offering barriers to bacteria, but also thanks to tissue paper used widely in healthcare and for daily sanitary uses.

It uses resources efficiently and responsibly. By reclaiming and recycling wood-based products after they have been used, the industry is committed to the efficient use of raw materials. In 2009, the global recovery rate for paper has reached 55.6%, compared to 46.5% in 2000. In some regions, the industry aims as well to limit the landfilling of its products by using it as biomass for energy recovery at the very end of its life cycle. It also consumes some water, but after cleaning, releases back the majority of it, sometimes even cleaner than before. At the same time, responsibly forests provide acknowledged benefits for water quality and protection.

It is part of the solution to climate change mitigation. As stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 4th Assessment Report: ?A sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.? Forest products have the inherent capacity to store carbon until they decay or are converted into energy. In addition, they are replacing other less climate and environment friendly materials, as well as fossil fuels.

At the same time, it reduces its impact on the environment. It has notably reduced its direct greenhouse gas emissions per ton produced by 8% between 2004 and 2009. Already today the forest products industries have decoupled their environmental impacts and their production.

The global forest products industries represented by ICFPA strongly believe that these achievements are giving it already today a very prominent role in the green economy and are convinced that they can further improve if the right enabling conditions are established.

Recommendations to further boost the contribution of the forest products industries to the ?green economy?

The Global Forest Products Industries represented by ICFPA fully support the recommendations listed in the co-chairs? summary of the country-led initiative ?Contribution of forests to a green economy? that took place in Bonn on 4 to 7 October 2011, namely, that further action is needed to:

? Ensure that the tools used to enhance and demonstrate the sustainability of forest management and production processes ? including third-party verified forest certification ? are guaranteeing fair competition with sectors using other resources and fair trade between countries and are not used as non-tariff barriers to trade, or as a deterrent to use wood; ? Promote public-private partnerships to strengthen dialogue and information flows between science and practice along the whole value chain, with a view to support the transformation of the industry and enhance its contribution to the ?green economy?;
? Dedicate seed funds from the public and/or private sector in order to (i) help local communities to develop businesses and have access to the markets and (ii) support pre-competitive research and development for innovation;
? Ensure transparency and fairness on the markets for forest products and services, including for its raw materials (both from the forests and secondary raw materials); Transparency should also apply to ownership and tenure right as a preliminary condition to a stable and predictable business environment; ? Promote the potential of harvested wood products as long-term carbon storage and as substitute to other less climate and/or environment friendly materials.

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