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Certification and Procurement

Fern’s analysis: Whether to buy certified products is a choice consumers make on a near daily basis as certifications schemes exist for timber products, fish, organic food and many other items.

When it comes to forest products, there are two major certification schemes: the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Products and the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). The PEFC, created by the forestry sector in response to the creation of the FSC, has developed from a ‘rubber stamping’ exercise without any controls, to a genuine certification scheme. Despite these improvements, Fern’s 2001 report Behind the Logo and Fern’s 2005 report Footprints in the Forest found that the PEFC remained less rigorous than the FSC.

For many years Fern was an active supporter and member of the FSC. Its multi-stakeholder process was innovative and set a trend for other initiatives, including FLEGT.  In part thanks to FSC, good forest management is now widely seen as being a balancing act between economic, social and environmental values, rather than just as sustainable yield. This balancing act requires an inclusive, deliberative, multi-stakeholder process to set standards and processes. Lack of effective implementation of its standards, combined with an attempt – later abandoned – to certify forest carbon offsets, was, however, sufficient reason for Fern to hand in its membership in 2011.

Since then Fern’s focus has moved away from certification. Certification still has a clear role in improving forest and land management, but there are real limits to what certification can achieve. The real threats to forests today are climate change and over-consumption of forest and agricultural products, neither of which can be addressed by certification. In some cases, certification is even used as an excuse to not reduce consumption. The EU’s bioenergy policy is a good example - it encourages biofuels as long as they are certified, when it should be incentivising real renewables and dis-incentivising land based bioenergy.  There is a serious risk that future EU policies on bioenergy will make the same mistake for woody biomass

What Fern is doing: Fern is working to ensure that the EU develops and implements coherent policies that reduce the overall EU forest footprint, while increasing the percentage of commodities that are legally and sustainably sourced. Fern calls on the EU to develop a policy to reduce emissions in the forest and land sector by improving management and restoration of existing EU forests.

To learn more about our previous work on certification: see Fern's statement to the Forest Stewardship Council on withdrawing Fern's membership, Fern’s previous statement on FSC and Fern’s report analysing different certification schemes: Behind the Logo, Footprints in the forest and Buying a sustainable future.

Most recent publications

Response to the green paper on the modernisation of EU public procurement policy

The informal network for sustainable development in public procurement, a network of trade unions, social and sustainable development organisations, have submitted a common response to the green paper on the modernisation of EU public procurement policy.

ForestWatch Issue 157 February 2011

  • Commission’s ‘Buying Social’ guide disappoints
  • Greater ECA accountability needed – but how?
  • Emissions from land use: count them or reduce them?
  • Dutch Government rightly wary of MTCS
  • Paper dispute: Court finds against Italian NGO
  • UK marks year of forests by selling theirs
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PDF iconFW 157 February 2011.pdf232.25 KB

New European Commission’s “Buying Social” guide: a giant step for the EC, a small step for sustainable procurement

A press release by a network of trade unions and social and sustainable development organisations commenting on the European Commission's launch of the long-awaited “Buying social: a guide to take account of social considerations in public procurement”. The signatories considers that the guide fails to reflect the true potential of public procurement as an instrument in support of social and sustainable development objectives. Much more is needed if the EU and Member States are to live up to the EU Treaty commitments and international obligations in this field.

Forestwatch Issue 156 and Cancun and International Year of the Forest Specials

Welcome to the first Forest Watch of 2011. This is also United Nations Year of the Forest and so FERN has written a two-page Forest Watch special looking at the state of play for forests through the lens of our campaigns which can be accessed below. Last month too was  an important month for forests due to decisions made at the 16th Conference of the Parties in Cancun. FERN’s two-page special report from that meeting is attached below. Articles in this months Forest Watch include:

ForestWatch Issue 155 December 2010

  • Social criteria are permissible in timber procurement policy
  • Questions remain about Cancun forests agreement
  • A bold move: the EP votes to address ECA flaws
  • The future of CAP: opinions welcome
  • Agrofuel plans drive destruction

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PDF iconFW 155 December 2010.pdf217.33 KB

Evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of EU Procurement legislation and policy

The informal network for sustainable development in public procurement, a network of trade unions, social and sustainable development organisations, produced an initial contribution to the evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of EU Procurement legislation and policy.

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