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Expanded Guide Links Business Payoffs and Sustainable Forest Management

WRI and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development today released an updated online guide to help corporate buyers ensure the sustainability of their wood- and paper-based products.

Tools to support the sustainable procurement of products abound, as governments, NGOs, and other groups seek to address deforestation and forest degradation through the marketplace and combat climate change. However, the growing number of tools can be confusing and overwhelming for many companies.

One year ago, WRI and the WBCSD joined forces to launch an information and decision-making tool to assist readers in developing and implementing sustainable procurement policies for forest products. The report, Sustainable Procurement of Wood and Paper-based Products, addresses the top 10 questions that corporate procurement managers should ask when purchasing forest-based products. Among other topics, the Guide covers issues such as product legality, sustainability and climate change implications. The report also includes a “guide to the guides,” which helps companies steer through the maze of resources that have emerged to aid sustainable procurement.

The 2009 online update of this guide includes the characterization of 13 additional resources and a comprehensive list of publicly available private sector procurement policies and the issues they cover. This updated, practical guide will help business leaders define and implement economically sound and environmentally friendly purchasing policies, while simultaneously promoting sustainable forest management.

Recent studies estimate that more than 7.3 million hectares of trees are lost each year to deforestation, primarily caused by permanent conversion to crop and grazing land, especially in developing countries. This uniquely human activity now accounts for 15-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Governments around the world have taken consequent actions to curb deforestation and illegal timber trade – exemplified by last year's amendment to the US Lacey Act and the recent decision by the European Parliament to adopt tighter rules to keep illegal timber off of the EU market.

Accordingly, companies and their consumers are increasingly more sensitive to the legality of their products and their effect on climate change. The sustainable procurement of forest products can therefore help companies reduce their reputation risk and, at the same time, encourage environmentally friendly business practices up and down their supply chain.

WRI and the WBCSD are committed to annual updates of this important guide. The first Guide gave buyers an important overview of the business payoffs and environmental benefits achieved through sustainable purchasing. This new edition builds on that success, providing companies with an updated virtual Rolodex of the information and tools currently available to protect their operations and the planet.

Co-author James Griffiths is Managing Director of WBCSD's Ecosystems Focus Area, Water Project and Sustainable Forest Products Industry.

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