By Ida Rehnström

Does FSC have the power to really combat global climate change? Can a certification scheme combat global biodiversity loss and forest degradation? Will the market be ready for new ways of working with FSC? Today’s Keynote Session was a hopeful one. Bringing to stage voices that clearly believe in FSC and its power to make a real difference, although from very different perspectives.

The keynote session unfolded with a look into FSC’s global strategy and the future possibilities for FSC to make a global impact.

What are FSC’s goals?

Janne Narakka, FSC International Board member, provided an overview of FSC’s global strategy and its aim at expanding FSC’s relevance in the fight against climate change and loss of biodiversity.

“This is just the beginning of the journey” Janne said, “our mission is that FSC will bring forests to the center of coordinated climate actions and make FSC a central actor on the climate front”.

To do this, FSC will need to promote current solutions, develop new solutions to strengthen and diversify climate impact and to revise the Ecosystem Services Procedure to both expand and strengthen links to the market.

In alignment with FSC’s strategy, partnerships will be in the center of all solutions.

“We will not do this alone; we will build partnerships with reputable partners and with the financial sector with the aim of supporting the use of FSC as tool to decrease risks in forestry investment.”

The board is also looking to co-create these solutions with the membership, encouraging all to participate in the debates during the General Assembly and to join an upcoming public consultation on FSC’s Climate Position Paper that is set to begin around mid-November. 

From wine to forests with FSC

From Chile we heard from Valentina Lira, Director of one of the world’s largest wineries, Concha y Toro, who also owns both a vineyard and an FSC-certified natural forest.

“FSC has been a wonderful tool for us to improve the sustainable procurement of the company in general. Not only in our relation to the forest.” Valentina said.

She urged FSC to think outside the box when working with companies, creating dialogue and working to address biodiversity loss.

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FSC benefits were unexpected!

Valentina highlighted the completely unexpected value that FSC forest management certification has brought to their work with local communities:

“The relationship we have now with the local community has a new dimension as the forest actually unites us in the territories “

Another benefit FSC certification has brought to the winery is the ability to meet social and environmental performance indicators in other international standards as well as the ability to communicate climate and biodiversity topics to consumers.

A message from Gabon

From the stage screen we heard from Gabon’s Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea, and Environment, charged with Climate Change, SDGs and Land-use Planning, Lee White.

“We see FSC as a key component to the future of forestry of Gabon”, he said, stating how all of  Gabon’s forest activities are engaged with certification at some level – starting with legality and moving into ecosystem services.

He put an emphasis on the importance of Gabon’s forests on a local and global scale and how Gabon’s forests are taking a leading role in holding carbon due to good forest practices. He ended with this statement:

 “If we are going to save the Congo Basin (…) the method of exploring forests sustainably to save the forests is the only way to maintain forests in the future”.

What does the market ask for?

We also heard from Stephen Donofrio from Forest Trends who highlighted the role and importance of Indigenous Peoples when creating climate solutions maintaining biodiversity.

Having researched the market for two decades, the company is looking into whether the market is willing to pay for carbon credits with extra value like the ones FSC can bring.  

“Not only is there now a preference for credits with these additional benefits, but we are now seeing the purchase of these ecosystem services”.

Stephen is excited about the collaboration with FSC to focus on the value that FSC provides, certification, and how to bring the carbon market and FSC together.

FSC should facilitate the dialogue on untapped markets

We also got to hear from Esther Rohena from South Pole who is working on carbon credits and guiding companies to reduce their emissions.

“Our collaboration is focused on introducing the idea of carbon project development to the FSC members, but also looking at potentially other ecosystem services and payment options”.

She was clear about how FSC holds a unique position to create dialogue for new solutions, saying that:

“The road for FSC is to facilitate this dialogue between the different stakeholders (…) to explore the opportunity in untapped markets for some of your members”

Urging FSC to use the structures already in place to link relevant members to organizations like South Pole to really tap into that market.

The question around ecosystem services and how they should or should not unfold is a hot topic amongst FSC’s member base. The right solutions will only happen through dialogue and collaboration.