In advance of a global meeting on sustainable wood production, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and other forestry stakeholders called for changing the way the world harvests and trades wood for timber, paper and other uses to tackle deforestation, conserve biodiversity and combat climate change, in line with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The discussion took place within the Sustainable Wood for a Sustainable World Initiative (SW4SW).

In parallel to the China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) EXPO Forest & Wood Products 2019, over 100 forestry experts convened in Nanning, China, to discuss options for promoting sustainable wood trade and production. FAO, the Government of China and the China National Forest Products Industry Association organized the expert discussion, which took place from 23-25 November 2019.

Participants discussed measures to promote sustainable wood trade and production through commitments to legality and raising awareness of end consumers. They supported tackling illegal wood in markets and increasing the market value for sustainable products and discussed opportunities for promoting positive linkages between sustainable wood value chains and poverty reduction, sustainable landscapes and sustainable economic growth. They also recognized the importance of exchanging technical expertise, increasing South-South cooperation and strengthening producers’ capacity to harvest wood sustainably and gain access to markets that support and promote legal and sustainable wood supplies.

Sustainable wood “means less deforestation, cleaner air and water, more stable land and better livelihoods.”

FAO Senior Forestry Officer, Thais Linhares-Juvenal, highlighted sustainable wood as a driver of sustainable rural development and “the basis of a sustainable bioeconomy.” She explained sustainable wood “means less deforestation, cleaner air and water, more stable land and better livelihoods, including for rural populations and indigenous communities.” Linhares-Juvenal stressed the importance of increasing attention on sustainable wood trade and on trade practices that limit illegal wood in markets. [SDG Knowledge Hub Guest Article on Greening the Wood Industry]

FAO, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the World Bank and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) formed the SW4SW Initiative in 2018 to “reconcile the international demand for wood with social, economic and environmental needs.” The Initiative aims to strengthen sustainable wood value chains by enhancing their social, economic and environmental benefits from production through to consumption and contributing to achieving SDGs 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 17. The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) joined the Initiative in 2019. [FAO Press Release] [SW4SW Webpage]