International workshop on green timber supply chains opens in China

The International Workshop on Global Green Supply Chain of Forest Products and Dialogue with Chinese Leading Timber Enterprises opened on the 21st of June in Beijing, China.

ITTO Executive Director Gerhard Dieterle said In his opening address that the workshop is key to ITTO’s mandate to encourage more international tropical timber trade from legal and sustainable sources. Dr Dieterle said that Chinese manufacturers of wood products are positioned right in the middle of the tropical timber supply chain, from production, processing to the selling of finished wood products globally. Challenges faced by them, therefore, can be turned them into major drivers of sustainable forest management through green supply chains.

He also pointed out that major markets are expressing clearly that tropical timber products imported from China and other countries should be more transparent about the source of wood products and ensuring they are not obtained at the expense of tropical forests. This would mean that markets will need documented proof of legality and sustainability.

Five public–private investment areas for successful establishment of sustainable supply chains were also highlighted:

  • great amount of reforestation is needed to restore tropical forests and new forest plantations need to be established;
  • practices for sustainable forest management and timber production still need improvement;
  • reduction in wastage in the use of harvested wood
  • origins need to be verified and good forest management through chains of custody
  • training, capacity building and information exchange across the supply chain, from trees in the plantations and forests to end products on shelves.

He said that successful green supply chains need a healthy private sector with the capabilities to implementing good frameworks, fair taxation systems, clear-cut rules, no corruption and illegality, transparent land tenure and rights and involving local people and smallholders. Which is why the private sector, governments and international organizations need to work hand in hand and this is where ITTO can step in to assist and bring together all parties.

High-ranking Chinese government officials were also present and spoke at the opening ceremony: Dr Wang Dengju, Director General of the Center for International Forest Products Trade (CINF/NFGA); Mr Wu Zhimin, Director General for International Cooperation, National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA); Ms Liang Hong, Deputy Director General for International Cooperation, Ministry of Commerce; (MOFCOM)  and Ms Jin Hongman, Deputy Director General for Statistics and Data Department from the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

All acknowledged the benefit of having green supply chains, not only for economic development but also for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. They too agreed that green supply chains are an excellent concept and mindset people ought to have in producer, processor and consumer countries.

On the first day of the workshop, more than 120 participants discussed the following four topics:

1) the current situation and trends of tropical timber resources, speakers came from Central Africa, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Peru

2) the demands and challenges of international timber markets, speakers came from ITTO, the European Timber Trade Federation, and the consulting firm South Star Australia Group

3) views on building green supply chains in China, speakers came from the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association, China Forest Products Co. Ltd., Startforest ArtFlooring Co. Ltd, and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration

4) concepts and experiences for establishing successful supply chains, speakers came from the University of International Business and Economics, the Sarawak Timber Association, and the General Customs Administration of China.

Work will continue on the second day. There will be a dialogue with leading Chinese timber enterprises on the building of a green supply-chain mechanism.