PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue: The unusually successful marketing strategy of partnerships


From left: Quentin Yang, WestRock; Sheam Satkuru-Granzella, Malaysian Timber Council; Chinnarat Boonchu, Double A; Yu Ling, China Forest Certification Council.

As the 2016 PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue continue to explore the essential role that forests and trees play in providing solutions to complex, global challenges, the business case for certification is increasingly becoming a hot topic for sustainability. For instance, how do we build market value and demand such that it is meaningful for the market? How do we partner with brand owners and engage consumers to increase the uptake of certification, so that it makes sense for businesses, consumers and forests?

The answer? Through partnerships.

The key to a successful partnership is trust, said Quentin Yang from Westrock. Sharing his success story with Carlsberg Group during the partner session on November 18, he went on to stress that in order for a partnership to succeed, packaging companies have to trust that WestRock can deliver paper products sourced from sustainable forests.

“Sustainability isn’t just a word. It is the fibre of our company,” he said. “Consumers care about sustainability. They want to do what is right but it has to be easy.”

His case study reinforced the importance of partnership and collaboration, and too which Chinnarat Boonchu from Double A continued with 1 Dream, 1 Tree, a corporate social responsibility campaign that plants trees in rural areas so that farmers can earn extra income from its harvest. Primarily driven by social media, the campaign’s result was staggering. Launching in just four countries, the winning message has reached four million people, engaged 2.5 million and left an impression on 48 million – a true example of how brands can create an emotional connection.

The significance of partnerships was further reiterate by Yu Ling, secretary general from the China Forest Certification Council, who shared about non-wood forest products (NWFP) certification in China. Sheam Satkuru-Granzella, director for Europe from the Malaysian Timber Council, also highlighted the importance of collaboration; as a relatively hostile environment makes it almost impossible to do things on one’s own. For example, through collaborating with like-minded organisations, such as the government, forestry department, industry and the Malaysian Timber Certification Council. She also went on to underscore the importance of building partnerships with European partners with a shared aim so as to boost each other’s credibility.

However, Malaysia’s certification efforts are not without challenges: The Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme is the first national certification scheme to be established in Southeast Asia, hence, making it also well-positioned for coming under fire from consumers and environmentalists.

In promoting certification, the value per cubic metre of wood sold has increased to EUR20-30. In fact, in the past nine years, the volume of exports has been declining but the value of wood products has been growing, suggesting that certified products do fetch a premium.