A coalition of timber industry associations is collectively hosting the ‘World of Wood Festival’ from 25 October to 3 December at the Building Centre in London, online, and virtually. The six-week celebration of global timber and global forests coincides with COP26 climate talks being held in Glasgow in the first two weeks of November which brings together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree on coordinated action to tackle climate change.
Designed to inform climate change policy and raise awareness of the mitigation opportunities presented by the forest products sector, the World of Wood Festival will showcase the vital role that forest supply chains have to incentivise sustainable forest management, increase carbon sequestration both in forests and products, and substitute for more carbon-intensive building materials.
Devised and coordinated by the UK Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and CEI-Bois, representing European woodworking industries; the team has created an alliance of over 40 separate associations, organisations, businesses and campaigns representing global forest growth and development, engineered mass timber and wood-based products from Indonesia to Ghana, Australia, North America and China. This initiative is also supported by UK Aid, under the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s FGMC programme (Forest Governance, Markets and Climate).
Full details of World of Wood Festival events – all free to participants and mostly on-line – are available at: https://worldofwoodfestival.org/events/
Private sector launch “Governance for Growth” Accord for tropical timber
Of particular relevance to the tropical timber sector, the COP26 and World of Wood Festival provides the platform for launch of the “Global Forests need Global Governance, A Tropical Timber Accord” signed by forest products trade and industry associations in Africa, China, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia.
The Accord will be officially launched at 13.15pm (UK Time) on 2nd November at COP26 immediately after the World Leaders Summit when major policy statements on forests and land use are expected.
Speaking at the official launch of the World of Wood Festival on 26th October, Dave Hopkins, TTF Chief Executive provided the background to the Accord, explaining the core theme “governance for growth”.
“We hear a lot about policies to do with carbon markets and carbon sequestration to keep forest standing and to bring environmental benefits, but none of them will work unless you get the governance right”, said Mr Hopkins.
The Accord calls, according to Mr Hopkins, for a “strong legal framework within which people can operate in a proper manner to maintain forests, manage them for future prosperity, and for future generations, and in particular, to stop illegal deforestation”.
Mr Hopkins emphasised that “we want to make clear, through the Accord, that you can help stop illegal deforestation by rewarding reform within the forests and within the supply chains that come from them.
“It sends out a very powerful message that this supply chain, this industry around the world, is grown up enough to call for strong legal governance, and to call for strict regulation in the markets and the countries that it operates in. It’s a very unusual thing to see in any industry.
On the specific action that is needed, according to Mr Hopkins, “we’re calling on the leaders at COP26 to really start to initiate, again, national multi stakeholder processes throughout the world that can bring together government, civil society and the private sector that incentivize effective tropical forest governance and responsible forests trade by offering support, and particularly investment in the added value of tropical forest industries.
“We’re also calling on international business and consumer markets to really commit to sourcing tropical forest products and material only from those legal sources that can ensure the sustainability of resources into the future.
“And to simplify, and to rationalise and harmonise the range of product standards, and the communication messages that are coming out, so that we can see that people are acting on a level playing field”.
Mr Hopkins acknowledged that this is not new, commenting that there is no intent to reinvent the wheel but rather to “update the ambition and the policies that are framed by governments in the International Tropical Timber Agreement that’s been ratified now for several decades”. Also that “those standards and principles in the FLEGT agreements need to be refreshed and updated, given a new lease of life and injected with a new wave of political commitment.”
Mr Hopkins suggested that “sporadically governments have a big burst of energy and then it fizzles out – we want COP26 to rekindle all of that energy, and to really revitalise commitment to these processes. And to revisit the agreements already made to refresh them in light of the situation they find themselves in now”.
Mr Hopkins noted that because of this long history of prior commitment and engagement “we have the evidence and we have the basis and the bones for a lot of the policies. We now want it to be underpinned by practical guidance informed by best practice and driven by the tropical timber producing countries themselves”.
Mr Hopkins made clear that the Accord is framed to avoid any imposition of policies by consumer countries on tropical producing countries which, he said “is not the way that modern policy should go.” Instead the focus is on the “tropical countries themselves making policies, setting national standards, owning them, and being proud of them.”
Mr Hopkins closed his opening presentation to the Festival launch with images contrasting agricultural landscapes with commercial forestry landscapes and the comment that “the timber industry as a business model needs a presence of trees, for all other commodities, the business model requires an absence of trees”.
The Accord itself calls on COP26 leaders to “create a new international initiative which defines and agrees an international rules-based approach” driven by the following six policy points:
- Recognise, incentivise, and support strong governance and sustainable forestry in producer countries.
- Recognise and independently verify each country’s own nationally determined standards.
- Internationally recognise a system of defined rules-based ‘legality’ and ‘sustainability’ which supports governance and strong global collaboration.
- Encourage consumer market policies and regulations to promote responsible trade with countries with strong forest governance and discourage trade from places which do not demonstrate this.
- Incentivise countries with effective forest governance with “green lane” access to international markets and trade through strengthening communications and promotion throughout the supply chain.
- Encourage international investment and support of micro-SMEs – the backbone of the economy in most tropical producer countries and industry.
The signatories to the Accord are:
- Cameroon – Groupement de la Filiere Bois du Cameroun (GFBC)
- Côte d’Ivoire – Syndicat des Producteurs Industriels du Bois (SPIB)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo – Association Congolaise des Exploitants Gorestiers Artisanaux (ACEFA)
- Gabon – Union of Forestry and Timber Industries of Gabon (UNIFA)
- Ghana – Forest Industries Association of Ghana (FIAG)
- Guyana – Forest Products Association of Guyana, Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association
- Honduras – Honduran Woodworkers Association
- Indonesia – Association of Indonesian Forest Concession Holders (APHI), Communication Forum of Forestry Community (FKMPI), Association of Furniture and Craft Industries (ASMINDO), Indonesian Wood Panel Association
- Liberia – Liberia Timber Association (LibTA)
- Malaysia – Sarawak Timber Association, Malaysian Timber Council (MTC)
- Republic of the Congo – Union Patronale et Interprofessionnelle du Congo (UNICONGO), Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux – Congo (ATIBT)
- Thailand – BNS Wood Industry Co. Ltd Thailand
- Vietnam – VIFOREST
- Europe – European Timber Trade Federation, UK Timber Trade Federation
- China – China Timber & Wood Products Distribution Association (CTWPDA)
- ATIBT – Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux (International Tropical Timber Technical Association)
Growing our low carbon future: time for timber
Alongside the Tropical Timber Accord, the World of Wood Festival also provides the platform for the launch of the Global COP26 Wood Manifesto entitled “Growing our low carbon future: time for timber”. Paul Brannen, Director of Public Affairs at CEI-Bois and the European Organisation of Sawmillers (EOS) introduced this Manifesto at the Festival launch on 26th October.
Mr Brannen said that the Wood Manifesto was developed jointly by representatives of forest products associations from Europe, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Canada to influence the politicians and decision makers attending COP26. It was launched formally on 28th October during a 2-day conference on the built environment hosted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London.
Mr Brannen commented that “our research collectively shows that knowledge amongst decision makers about the role that wood can play in helping us to decarbonize the built environment is, at best, somewhat patchy”.
“The first point we want to get across to the politicians”, according to Mr Brennan, “is just how big a contribution the built environment makes to climate change emissions – that is around about 40%”
He also observed that “if concrete were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world”, the implication being that “the substitution ability of wood is incredibly important to convey to politicians”.
The Manifesto stresses the carbon sequestration properties of timber in construction which sets it apart from nearly other building materials. “While we can store that carbon in new buildings, we can also store it in renovating and retrofitting existing buildings”, said Mr Brannen. He noted that as part of the EU’s net zero carbon plans the EU intends, by 2050, to renovate 75% of the built environment within the EU.
Another point emphasised in the Manifesto is the sheer range of applications in the construction sector that can be served by wood. While there is awareness of wood’s suitability for joinery and smaller buildings, there is still insufficient awareness of the opportunities presented by engineered wood materials such as CLT, glulam and laminated veneer lumber to build at height and scale in high density urban environments.
Mr Brennan concluded with the observation that forest products offer solutions for carbon mitigation in the built environment which are “based on existing business models and existing products: we can do this now and we know how to do this, we do not need to wait on proven technology which simultaneously stores carbon and substitutes fossil fuel resources”.