Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) International
- Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
Contribution by PEFC to the Outcomes of the Rio+20 Conferences
PEFC, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and world?s largest forest certification,
recalls the 2011 UNEP ?Forests in a Green Economy? report. ?Forests are a critical link in the transition to a
green economy ? one that promotes sustainable development and poverty eradication as we move towards a
low-carbon and more equitable future,? writes Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director. ?Biologically-rich
forest ecosystems provide shelter, food, jobs, water, medicine and security to more than 1 billion people, as
well as regulate our global climate.?
Mr. Steiner emphasizes that ?[w]hile we have a suite of proven sustainable forestry practices and policies that
work, they must now be scaled up and enforced to safeguard these natural assets.?
PEFC supports these important messages.
Over the past 20 years, forest certification has become one of the most important tools for global society to
promote sustainable forest management. Yet despite major strides in certification, only nine percent of the
world?s forests have been certified and ninety percent of these are in Europe and North America.
Similarly, despite some progress in alleviating poverty around the world, population growth means that in real
terms the number of people living below the poverty line remains high ? poverty is a major reason for
deforestation and illegal logging. This situation is further complicated in rapidly emerging economies where
land tenure rights have to date been ill-defined or may be weak and evolving.
Forest certification system such as PEFC are an important mechanism that offer potential to contribute to
improving livelihoods, particularly in developing countries, and to assist in lifting people out of poverty.
Forest certification is also important in assisting us in moving towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including
that by that by 2020, forests are managed sustainably and forest loss is halved. This, however, requires us to
mainstream forest certification throughout the world and especially in the Global South. To achieve this, all
forest certification systems and stakeholders must seek to ensure that our efforts to expand forest certification
are additive and not duplicative, contributing to an expansion of the overall total certified forest area.
In a world where deforestation continues unabated in many nations, stakeholder must collaborate whenever
possible. While PEFC ? the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification ? is the larger of the two
global forest certification systems, we must utilize the different approaches offered for the best of society as a
whole. We must agree on a common framework to guide forest certification and its stakeholders in their
The Rio Forest Certification Declaration (www.rfcd.org), supported by PEFC, the world?s largest forest
certification system and by hundreds of people who have signed the Declaration online, represents such a
PEFC calls for the Inclusion of the ?Rio Forest Certification Declaration? in the outcomes of the Rio+20
The Rio Forest Certification Declaration
The challenge of safeguarding the environmental, social and economic benefits that the world?s forests
provide is critical for life on Earth. It requires a world in which people manage forests sustainably, a world that
recognizes the integral and interdependent nature of our planet, a world that acknowledges and values the
significance of rural communities, indigenous peoples, and families that depend on forests for their livelihoods.
Principle 1: Human beings are at the centre of sustainable forest management
Public and private policies designed to promote sustainable forest management can only succeed if they
enhance the quality of life of people who live in and/or depend upon forests.
Application: Forest certification systems and all stakeholders must act to protect and promote forestdependent
populations, local communities, smallholder forest owners, workers, family foresters, women, youth
and children, and indigenous peoples all of whom are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with
the forests on which they depend.
Principle 2: Recognize and respect national sovereignty in the design and implementation of
sustainable forest management policies and standards
In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Rio Forest Principles, and the principles of
international law, all states have both the sovereign right and obligation to develop their own sustainable forest
management objectives. States must act to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not
cause environmental, social, or economic damage to areas and people beyond the limits of their national
jurisdiction or violate international protocols and conventions.
Application: Forest certification systems, forest stakeholders, especially Major Groups and OECD countries,
must respect each nation?s chosen path to promote sustainable development, the Millennium Development
Goals, and sustainably managed forests in their actions, policies and guidelines.
Principle 3: Protect the complexity of forest ecosystems, forest-dependent economies, and rural
culture by adopting integrated forest management plans and policies
In order to promote sustainable forest management, forest certification standards, national forest policy, and
private and public procurement guidelines must meet the needs of present and future generations by
promoting economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just outcomes based on the national and/or
Application: Forest certification standards, public policy and procurement guidelines must integrate competing
demands in order to meet the needs of all stakeholders to deliver balanced socially, economically and
environmentally sustainable solutions.
Principle 4: Contribute to poverty reduction through empowerment of the poor
Peace, social justice, global economic equity, and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.
Poverty reduction is an indispensable requirement for sustainable forest management; it is an integral part of
the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it. The linkage between deforestation and
poverty is strong, compelling, and in need of specific attention. Measures diminishing forest resources to
increase agricultural resources to contribute to food security must directly contribute to the sustainable
livelihoods of those affected.
Application: Forest certification systems, Major Groups and governments may contribute to mitigate
deforestation and promote afforestation within their boundaries and jurisdictions and seek to safeguard forest
resources. Standards and policies must promote the efficient use of forest resources, good forest
management, and provide for increased wealth retention in rural communities through partnerships with
smallholders, community-owned forests, and indigenous peoples? organizations, in addition to maximizing
formal employment opportunities.
Principle 5: Open and accessible stakeholder processes are essential
Sustainable forest management is best achieved through the empowerment of all stakeholders in open and
accessible processes. Special outreach must occur for those groups lacking a tradition of involvement or
lacking the resources required.
Application: Forest certification governance systems, private and public procurement entities, and standards
development processes must seek to ensure the involvement of Major Groups and governments in a multistakeholder,
consensus-driven process, respecting the right to self-identification and self-determination while
avoiding governance systems and decision-making processes designed to restrict the voice or participation of
Principle 6: Transparency, inclusiveness, and collaboration are fundamental prerequisites for global
Expanding sustainable forest management to all of the world?s forest requires cooperative and transparent
processes among all stakeholders and governments. Promoting division, competition, and exclusivity among
and between different approaches to sustainable forest management wastes limited resources, encroaches on
stakeholder-driven processes, diverts attention from areas where deforestation and unsustainable forest
management are still common practices, and fails to expand the total volume of global well-managed forest
Application: Certification schemes, procurement guidelines, and those seeking to protect forests must promote
standards, policies, and practices, which are inclusive and recognize the superiority of all types of sustainably
managed forests and certification systems as a tool to promote sustainable development.
Principle 7: Utilize the benefits of renewable and climate-smart forest-based products
Sustainable forest management must adapt to complex societal challenges such as climate change,
population growth and increasing resource shortages caused by unsustainable patterns of production and
consumption, especially those that are high-carbon emitting. Recognizing the unique attributes of forest
products from sustainably managed forests both in terms of carbon sequestration, other ecosystem services,
and development values is critical for public and private policy makers, including climate policy negotiators.
Application: Forest certification systems, governments, and procurement entities must recognize and use all
tools available to support forests to adapt and thrive with these challenges including adaptive silvicultural
practices, promotion of recycled and forest-based products for their unique attributes in terms of carbon
sequestration, other ecosystem services, and development values.
Principle 8: Rely on science, local experience, and traditional forest-related knowledge to advance
sustainable forest management
Sustainable forest management will be most successful when it is based on scientific, local experience and
traditional forest knowledge, as well as international protocols and processes. Improving scientific
understanding through exchanges of scientific, local and traditional forest-related and technological
knowledge, and the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, is critical to the delivery of
a balanced approach to sustainable forest management. Indigenous peoples have a vital role in sustainable
forest management because of their knowledge and traditional practices.
Application: Forest certification systems, governments and procurement entities must develop standards
based on the best available science, local and traditional knowledge and be structured such that developing
countries, communities and small forest landowners have a clear path to meet the forest management
standards. These approaches must be independently verifiable, using guidelines and requirements in
compliance with internationally respected organizations such as ISO. Conflicts of interests between
governmental procurement entities, standard-setting bodies, certification organizations, accreditation bodies,
and auditors must be handled accordingly in order to provide legitimacy to the process.
Principle 9: Use a precautionary approach to prevent irreversible damage
In order to best safeguard forest resources, precautionary approaches must be widely applied by all
stakeholders where there are imminent threats of serious or irreversible damage.
Application: Forest certification systems, governments, and procurement entities must strive for continuous
improvement while remaining aware of the consequences of their programmes and standards for all
Principle 10: Promoting global acceptance of sustainable forest management through voluntary
programmes and education is the fastest path to healthy forests and vibrant rural communities
Achieving sustainable forest management is a major challenge in many parts of the world. Voluntary forest
certification and private and public procurement policies are important tools to protect forests and forestdependent
Application: Forest certification systems, Major Groups and governments have an obligation to make available
and use, for the advancement of sustainable forest management, their respective areas of expertise, influence
and power. Policies, standards and tactics that negatively affect forest-dependent people, deny markets to
sustainably managed forests, and create development obstacles, lead to inefficiencies in the allocation of
resources, and are a barrier to advancing sustainable forest management globally and locally