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International Conference on Legal and Certified Forests and Forest Products Markets in Asia Pacific: Harmonizing Policy and Practice

September 10, 2009

The recent international conference, Forests, Markets, Policy and Practice, took place on September 8 - 9, 2009 in Shanghai, China and brought together more than 30 speakers and over 350 participants from 170 organizations. Roughly one-third were from non-profit organizations including government, academia and NGOs -- and the remaining two-thirds came from industry, including trading companies, timber producers, manufactures and retailers. About 80 percent of the audience came from China and 20 percent came from overseas.

The conference explored emerging policies of the European Union, China and the United States aimed at addressing illegal and unsustainable trade in forest products. It also explored how the leading industry responses to these policies as are becoming "game changers."


Sponsored by the Chinese State Forestry Administration International Forestry Cooperation Center and The Nature Conservancy, and generously supported by the United States Agency for International Development's Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade Program (USAID-RAFT), the event highlighted the important role China plays both domestically and globally in the forest products market.

Government representatives, landowners, manufacturers and retailers illustrated their innovations in responsible sourcing policies and strategies. Organizers of the conference included the Rainforest Alliance, World Wide Fund for Nature and Chinese Academy of Forestry.

Key trends that emerged at the conference include:


  • Accelerating awareness of legality and sustainability issues associated with international forest products trade.
  • The supply of certified and/or legal raw material remains a major challenge for manufacturers.
  • An understanding that companies that secure legal and sustainable supply will enhance their likelihood to maintain or increase market share in increasingly challenging global and national markets.
  • Consensus that policies like the amended Lacey Act in the United States and pending European Union legality due diligence requirements are game changers in the forest products marketplace globally.
  • Acknowledgement of the critical importance of government actions such as measures to enhance the legality of products in trade (imports and exports), procurement programs that foster sustainability and legality through government purchasing, and on-the-ground improvements in
    forest management. Conference Attendees
  • Growing understanding of the value that third party verification or certification schemes bring to can play in forest management and forest products markets.
  • The importance of forming coalitions of the specific roles international banks, governments, industry and NGOs in promoting sustainable forestry and verified legal markets and the emerging carbon markets.
  • The emergence of numerous responsible procurement support programs around the world, that are playing an innovate role in enhancing legal & sustainable supply.
  • Though financial tools that incorporate sustainability requirements (i.e. requiring certification or verification) are relatively, there is a strong appetite for them in the investment community.
  • A critical challenge, and potential solution, for future forest product supply resides in moving, in a stepwise fashion, from "traceable" to "legal" to "certified sustainable" -- a process that takes time, but is achievable.


Ultimately, the conference provided companies now leading responsible growth in China with a firm understanding of emerging public policies that are changing forest product markets and with clear guidance on how to engage these opportunities.

Media coverage: more than 29 articles were generated on this conference worldwide. A media clipping list is available upon request to approved entities.

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