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Smallholders key to sustainable production and consumption

Nov 07 2018

“Smallholders are vital to the concept of meaningful sustainable commodity production. They are not only significant producers of wood-based and agricultural products, but they rely on forest and farm land for their livelihoods,” said Ben Gunneberg, CEO of PEFC International, speaking yesterday at Innovations Forum’s Sustainable Landscape Conference 2018.

nepal project pic 2017“If we fail to integrate them meaningfully into global supply chains, we fail in promoting sustainability in general and more specifically, the sustainable livelihoods of hundreds of million rural based families.”

Addressing the unique needs of smallholders - which differ from country to country, from community to community, from sector to sector – requires bottom-up processes. Processes that ensure smallholders are an integral part of the conversation on establishing and securing the future of sustainable supply chains. “One size doesn’t fit all,” Mr Gunneberg emphasized.

“We need to be very mindful of those whose livelihoods depend on their forests and farmlands. We need to find ways to align and balance the local understanding and knowledge of sustainable production with global expectation on sustainable consumption.”

Trees outside Forests certification to enable smallholders to access wood fibre markets

Mr Gunneberg welcomed the interest of multinational companies in better integrating smallholders in their supply chains, and outlined that PEFC has a long history in responding to the needs of smallholders through its localized approach to standard setting and certification.

PEFC, the world’s leading forest certification system, is renowned for its unique and pragmatic approach to certification, which gives local stakeholders a strong voice in determining sustainability and forest certification requirements at national level. The organization is therefore due to expand the scope of certification to Trees outside Forests to cater for the livelihoods of a wider rural community at landscape level.

“We are proud to shortly move beyond forests, enabling small farmers’ operations to certify trees outside forests,” said Mr. Gunneberg.

“Many multinational companies have been requiring wood fibre entering their supply chain to originate from sustainable sources, which in the past risked excluding small farmers from supply chains. In the future, PEFC certification will enable them to gain access to these important markets, which in turn will positively contribute to their livelihoods.”

The PEFC General Assembly expected to approve the revised sustainable forest management standard, which integrates requirements for the certification of Trees outside Forests in November 2018, moving PEFC one-step closer to towards a landscape-level approach to certification.

Mr Gunneberg made his remarks at Innovations Forum’s Sustainable Landscape Conference 2018, which aimed to tackle some of the biggest issues faced by business in creating a net positive impact and ensuring sustainable and resilient agricultural supply chains.

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