PEFC 20th anniversary: a year of celebrations

Exactly one year ago, our year of celebrations began. For our 20th anniversary, we told the story of PEFC's beginnings, growth and development, present and future through a range of articles, photos and videos.

PEFC 20th anniversary: a year of celebrations

30 June 2020 20th anniversary

This time last year, PEFC celebrated its 20th anniversary. 30 June 2019 was the starting point for a year of special anniversary articles and videos about the history, development and future of our organization. One year later, as we turn 21, let’s look back over the last 12 months of celebrations!

On 30 June 1999, European small-forest owners came together to create an international forest certification system that had their needs at heart, and PEFC was born.

We began our celebrations by looking back at those very early days of our organization. We dug out some old photographs and highlighted the key milestones that have helped shape PEFC into what it is today – the world’s largest forest certification system.

Smallholders have always been at the heart of our work, and we have ensured that small- and family forest owners can benefit from certification. We developed group certification to make PEFC certification affordable and practical for smallholders. Throughout our 20 years, we have continued to innovate as we make sure that PEFC certification works for everybody.

In our year of celebrations we’ve also heard from small-forest owners themselves: Swedish forest owner Sven Erik Hammar spoke about smallholders and PEFC, while Riikka Joukio, a family forest owner and PEFC International Board member, looked back at 20 years of forest certification, and into a sustainable future.

How PEFC works

We know that it can be difficult to understand how PEFC exactly works. Our anniversary year gave us the perfect opportunity to explain: from how we are governed to who is responsible for developing our standards and how we ensure governance and standards development are kept separate and impartial.

Our members have also been involved. Andre Laroze from Certfor/PEFC Chile told us about the revision process of the Chilean Forest Management Standard, and MTCC, our national member for Malaysia, walked us through the development and revision of their national standard.

But it’s not just technical issues. We’ve seen how we use online communication campaigns to reach out to consumers with our message about the importance of forests, certification and sustainable forest management. 

We also carry out outreach to sectors that rely on forest-based products, promoting the importance of them procuring and working with certified timber - from construction and paper, to packaging, biomass, bamboo, rubber and furniture, even the fashion industry.

In conversation with Ben Gunneberg

Throughout our 20th year, we have heard from Ben Gunneberg, our CEO since the beginning of PEFC, as he has shared his memories and explained how and why PEFC works the way it does. 

Check out his first video in the series, reminiscing about the very first days of PEFC, below, and take a look at all the videos on our YouTube channel.

Video 1:31

How a movement began: in conversation with Ben Gunneberg

2019 is a very special year for the PEFC family as together we celebrate our 20th anniversary. Ben has been the Secretary General of PEFC since we were created in June 1999. Here he describes those very first days, how our movement began.

A celebratory PEFC Forest Certification Week

Once a year, the entire PEFC alliance gathers together for PEFC Week. In 2019, as we celebrated our anniversary, we went back to a significant place of our history: Würzburg, Germany, where one of our first meetings took place. 

The Würzburg meeting from 1999 proved to be a turning point in our history. 

It was the moment when everyone involved committed to the creation of PEFC: there was no turning back! 

20 years later, we were back to celebrate the achievements from 20 years of caring for forests globally and locally, welcoming 150 representatives from PEFC members from around the world, for the biggest PEFC Week ever.

One year of celebrations

With this article and with PEFC’s 21st anniversary, we are closing our year of celebrations.

If you’ve missed any of our 20th anniversary articles, you can find them all in one place in our news section. If you head to social media, search for the hashtag #20yearsofcaring to discover everything that the whole PEFC family has done over the past year – it has been a global celebration!


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Thorsten Arndt

Head of Advocacy

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