WFC 2015: Promoting Decent Work in Forest Certification – Moving Beyond ILO Conventions

For the first time ever, the World Forestry Congress (WFC) is hosted in the African region, in Durban South Africa. The congress kicked off on 7th September under the theme: “Forests and people: investing in a sustainable future.” Most of the important global challenges and opportunities for forests and forestry including climate change, urbanisation and increase demand for commodities and environmental services coupled with competition for public funding and need to empower forestry workers and local communities, engage the private sector and strengthen governance will be at the core of this one full week discussions in Durban.

Beside the official agenda, many side events are going on in Durban and focusing on issues concerning specific stakeholders. It is under this frame that BWI has been convene on 8 September to discuss with other experts from stakeholder groups such as forest certification systems (PEFC), companies ( UPM, SAPPI ), governments and inter- and non-governmental organizations ( UNECE, ITTO) on opportunities and challenges in securing adequate labour standards:

Issues like unemployment of youth and women, labour broking, sub-contracting, lack of appropriate health and safety and social protection have been raised by BWI representative Abdoul Karim Ouedraogo and supported by PEFC as crucial issues that need to be seriously tackled toward getting to a Sustainable Managed Forest.

Some solutions emerging from the discussions are the promotion of social dialogue among stakeholders and the need for more responsibility to be taken by all parties in regards to the sustainable forest management and the future of the forests. Forest Certification systems should support NGO and trade unions in the promotion of Forest certification recognized by all stakeholders as an important tool for Decent Work and Sustainable Forest Management.

But Forest Certification as a voluntary process still keep a weakness in some developing countries where consumers are not yet focusing on the sustainability of forest products and where bad governance is leading to weak implementation ILO standards .