Coming together at the FSC General Assembly 2021-2022, has shown me again how important it is to reconnect and be together, to look each other in the eyes and come to ideas for solutions together. Co-creation was one of the mottos of this general assembly and I think we have indeed produced co-creation during the 9th General Assembly.

We experienced various ‘FSC moments’ during the week, moments where we came together with different ideas, opinions and interests on different issues and found common ground.

I am very happy with what has been achieved. This includes the work on Conversion and Remedy and the passing of Motion 37 and Motion 45 during the general assembly.  From the perspective of the FSC Secretariat we will do whatever we can to try keep to the timelines and make sure that the requirements of Motion 45 are fulfilled as the guiding principle of the process.

I am also very happy with what has happened on Intact Forest Landscapes. We had an overwhelming majority of Members in favour of Motion 23: ‘Use landscape-wide approaches adapted to local conditions and strengthen Standard Development Groups (SDGs) to improve protection of Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs)’ with very strong support in all three chambers, which is very important.

On the other hand, I was sad to see Motion 46: ‘Incentives and benefits for the conservation of Intact Forest Landscapes and Indigenous Cultural Landscapes’ not pass, but I can promise that what motion 46 is talking about, which is mobilising resources for the people living in and around intact forest landscapes, that effort will happen in those areas in any case. In fact, I believe this is an integral part of implementing Motion 23.

I was particularly heartened to see the support for Motion 51 ‘Policy Motion on the right of workers to elect their own Occupational Health and safety representative(s)’ and Motion 50: ‘Policy Motion on the right of access to workers’ that were proposed by the Building and Woodworkers International. Health and Safety is a crucially important issue, and I look forward to working with Members from all Chambers to take these issues forward.

I’d like to also mention Motion 5: ‘Increase FSC Intl. Performance and Transparency’. Although the motion didn’t pass, the results of the voting demonstrated support from Members in all three Chambers, which indicates that this is an area the members want us to focus on. I know the Board wants this also, so I’m confident to promise that this is an area we will continue to work on. For sure, there are items in the motion that we will work on anyway which will include exploring ways to have an independent assessment of FSC’s Performance.

It's also important to acknowledge that during the general assembly there were some issues that did not come together. One of these issues was on the topic of Genetic Engineering. Reflecting on the discussions, it’s clear that we have not come closer to each other on the topic, and that more work is required to understand each other better. I think we can agree that Sustainable Intensification (if we exclude GE from the discussion on SI) is something we need to continue to work on. I think we can agree, it’s not just about getting more wood, it’s about doing it in a way that meets the different needs of society needs, and about having a comprehensive plan for what that looks like, combining the discussion with topics like consumption, recycling, and circular economy.  

I left the general assembly believing in FSC as much as I have ever done. I truly believe we can always do something great when we try together, and I believe we are willing to try often. There is a lot of work to do, but we can move further and faster, if we continue in the same spirit of collaboration that we’ve experienced in preparation for this general assembly. Going into 2023, we will continue the focus on our engagement with Members, perhaps not on the same level of intensity as the past three years, but with renewed focus on enhancing and engaging FSC membership in the regions.   

I am extremely grateful for the dedication, passion, and commitment of our all our members that ultimately contributed towards the success of the 9th FSC General Assembly. However, I’d like to acknowledge and appreciate one important FSC Member who was present on Zoom for the majority of the General Assembly. Leonie van der Maesen is 96 years old and is one of our most dedicated, enthusiastic, and critical members who follows and engages in all that we do. I’d like to acknowledge how much we appreciate Leonie and her commitment and passion.

To all our members, I look forward to our continued co-creation and engagement as we forge ahead on the path of shaping solutions for resilient forests, together.

Kim Carstensen
Director General