Get data or die trying  

“Show it, don’t tell it” Could be the headline for years of discussion on how to continuously develop ways to measure and document the impact of FSC. The wish for more and better impact data is as old as FSC, but with new technological developments come new opportunities. FSC is steering into a data driven future, where data is becoming part of the full value proposition for certificate holders as well as for consumers.   

During the session on Growing the value of certification using data, we heard about the 3 ways that FSC is working with data and technology and about what the market is looking for in terms of data, and why.  

The data driven future  

Oliver Mandila, program manager for data and innovations in FSC International opened the session by talking about the data driven future, sharing that:  

“’FSC wants to be a successful and high performing organization. This is why we invest in data science. We’re investing in processes, technologies and expertise that will help us to be agile, relevant and successful in a data driven world.”  

When talking about Data, Oliver Mandila reminded us that what makes data valuable is data science – the skills to combine statistics with computing to make sense of data – and to use data for decision making or problem solving.  

3 new ways FSC will work with data   

Marc Jessel, Chief System Integrity Officer at FSC International, was in the panel to talk about ways to harness data to protect the integrity of FSC,especially within FSC’s supply chains.   

He gave an example of how FSC can use data from GIS (geographic information system) mapping to monitor deforestation trends – an example of this could be to get an indication on whether a case of salvage logging took place on a legal basis or not.   

Another example of how FSC is hoping to work with data in the future, Marc Jessel explained, are two analytics tools to support FSC’s future modelling of risk. They will draw on previous years of data on e.g. forest regression to help shape risk profiles for future integrity work.  

The last example from Marc Jessel is FSC’s work on technologies to trace the provenance of wood, highlighting the work around stable isotopes. The hope from FSC is over time to be able to test products from within the supply chain to determine their origin.  

What do they want from us?  

Anakarina Pérez Oropeza, FSC International, framed how FSC must move with time to create smart solutions, which is why data is also an important part of the Global Strategy. She said:  

“In the 90’s people were talking about deforestation and tropical timber, so we were smart to come up with a solution that made tropical timber or timber trade a sustainable option (…) but today there is a clear demand for more data to prove things, so we have to find solutions.”  

Asger Olesen, Chief Climate and Ecosystem Officer, FSC International, talked about how the demand for data is rising lately, especially in Europe.   

He pointed to the recent development within European countries and EU legislation, where you as a company or organization must show valid data to make any claims or statements on sustainability.  

“This is something FSC needs to respond to” he says, foreseeing that this will soon be true for most of the world. He then demonstrated how the new ESS standard is a step in the right direction, but a lot of new solutions will have to be initiated.  

Underlining the point from Anakarina earlier on the need for data, he rephrased a sentence from 90’s rapper 50 Cent:  

“Get data or die trying!”  

Moving forward  

We then heard about FSC blockchain work as an important tool to get implemented for FSC’s integrity and data work in the future too.   In the Q&A session the floor had questions around how to manage data security, which the session moderator Oliver Mandila ensured was the number one priority when working with data solutions. And on the data driven future, he made this comment:  

“The founders of FSC might not have envisioned that one day we would need to hire computer scientists, data engineers, analysts, software developers, cyber security engineers and IT officers. But here we are today, proof of the dynamic nature of FSC.”