Stakeholder engagement: Shaping the future together

PEFC provides a space for people to come together to jointly determine how our forests should be managed.

In our latest video, our CEO Ben Gunneberg explains why it is so important to get all the stakeholders around the table and make the important decisions together.

“We all love forests in one way or the other, and we all wish to be involved with them and feel ownership of them. There is a kind of moral ownership of forests by everyone in society,” Ben explains.

“That is why it's important to get everyone involved in a multi-stakeholder process in determining how a forest is managed.”

“By having everyone involved, it allows all of us to understand better the different needs of different stakeholders and to try and find the correct balance to meet all of those needs, in a way that allows those forests to be managed sustainably and to be supported by all of us.”

source: https://pefc.org/news/stakeholder-engagement-shaping-the-future-together

International benchmarks adapted to regional needs – our national standards

At PEFC we are convinced that one size does not fit all when it comes to forest certification. This is why we work through national forest certification systems, enabling our national members to tailor their sustainable forest management requirements to the specific forest ecosystems, the legal and administrative framework and the socio-cultural context in their countries.

MTCC National Secretary Yong Teng Koon highlighting the need for merging the two standards

National systems are developed locally, but they need to undergo rigorous third-party assessment to ensure consistency with our international requirements.

However, achieving PEFC endorsement of a national forest certification system is not the final step. National standards are reviewed regularly so we know they continue to meet our evolving benchmarks and national and international expectations.

The Malaysian national standard

The Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC), our national member for Malaysia, walks us through the development and revision of their national standard over the last 20 years.

MTCC was established in October 1998 while the scheme that it implements – the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) – became operational in October 2001, using the Malaysian Criteria, Indicators, Activities and Standards of Performance for Forest Management Certification (MC&I(2001)) as its first national standard. 

Due to the complex ecosystem and the challenges involved in managing the rich biological diversity in Malaysia’s tropical forests, MTCC decided to take a stepwise approach in implementing the MTCS. The Malaysian standard was subsequently revised and entered into force as MC&I(2002) in 2005.

“The successful transition of the forest management standard from MC&I(2001) to MC&I(2002) was a clear testimony that the adoption of a phased approach in applying the standard was successful,” said Yong Teng Koon, National Secretary of MTCC.

“The approach has enabled and encouraged forest managers around the country to improve their management practices and documentation and build the capacity of their human resources towards managing their forest resources in a sustainable manner.”

The MC&I(2002) standard obtained PEFC endorsement in 2009.

Keep becoming better

In 2009, MTCC started the next revision process, to make its standard reflect the latest developments, emerging issues and research findings. Besides revising the standard for natural forests, MTCC also developed a separate standard for forest plantations. Both standards, MC&I(Natural Forest) and MC&I(Forest Plantations) were assessed by an independent assessor and endorsed by PEFC, and came into force in 2012.

In 2015, MTCC initiated the next revision process. In this revision, MTCC began to explore the possibility of merging the two standards to make them more resource efficient. The enquiry draft of the revised standard titled Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (MC&I SFM) was finalized and adopted by the multi-stakeholder Standards Review Committee in December 2019.

The finalized standard will have to be approved by the MTCC Board of Trustees and undergo third party assessment before being endorsed by PEFC.

source: https://pefc.org/news/international-benchmarks-adapted-to-regional-needs-our-national-standards

Revising our national standards – insights from Chile

PEFC national standards are developed locally. To make sure they continue to meet our evolving international requirements, they have to be reviewed every five years.

In our latest video, we hear from Andre Laroze, National Secretary of Certfor/PEFC Chile, who shares insights into the latest revision process of the Chilean Forest Management Standard.

“When we began the last revision of our Sustainable Forest Management Standard, we noticed how much the Chilean society and the forestry sector had developed during these years,” he explains.

“This meant that the expectations regarding the use of natural resources had achieved much higher levels that needed to be properly addressed. Many different stakeholders with different points of view participated in the discussion of the requirements.”

“Although the Certfor standard addressed the main issues of the day, sustainable development is a continuous process. New social, environmental demands arise over time. This implies that the standards must evolve, too, to address those new issues.”

Find out more about the revision process of national standards.

source: https://pefc.org/news/revising-our-national-standards-insights-from-chile

Practicing continuous improvement: The evolution of PEFC standards

PEFC International develops sustainability benchmarks that are applicable globally. Yet the real work is done by local stakeholders, who adapt them to local conditions and add their own requirements.

In our latest video, our CEO Ben Gunneberg speaks about the development of the PEFC standards and why it is so important to adapt national forest management standards to local conditions.

“In every country, there's a different type of forestry. So in every country there are different factors which impact how you do your sustainable forestry, so that needed to be taken into consideration. You couldn't have one size fits all,” he explains.

“The national standards are like the mountain linking the international standard to what actually has to be done every day on the ground to ensure sustainable forest management.”

“The various needs and the requirements to interpret the correct implementation of forest management on the ground are then elaborated in that national standard.”

source: https://pefc.org/news/practicing-continuous-improvement-the-evolution-of-pefc-standards

PEFC standards, who writes them?

From the requirements that companies must meet to achieve PEFC chain of custody certification, to the specific steps stakeholders must take as they develop their national forest certification system, our standards are vital to the functioning of our organization. But who is responsible for developing them?

The answer to this might not be what you think. It is not PEFC that develops the standards, but multi-stakeholder working groups. These working groups build consensus, relying on the involvement of active and committed individuals from different interest groups. PEFC’s role is essentially limited to coordinating these working groups.

But why do we do it like this? We need to ensure that the wealth of knowledge, interests, experience and expectations that exists can be captured when developing a standard. Suggestions and ideas need to be challenged and discussed. 

What works for one interest may not be practicable or agreeable to another. By bringing together a diverse group of people that must work together to build consensus, we can ensure that our standards meet the many expectations placed upon them, and that they integrate the best available knowledge.

Forming the working groups

How a working group is formed is important, and we do it as open and transparent as possible. To start, everybody can nominate a representative to be in a working group. This helps to provide for a wide range of candidates for the group. The PEFC Board of Directors then selects the members from the nominations received, based on what skills and expertise needs to be represented in the working group – this is different for different standards. 

To ensure that no single concerned interest can dominate the process, all working groups have balanced representation of interested stakeholders, including geographical representation. Stakeholder categories within the working groups are derived from the major groups outlined in the UN Agenda 21 (Business & Industry; NGOs; Scientific & Technological Communities; Farmers & Small Forest Landowners; Workers & Trade Unions; Local Authorities; Indigenous People; Women; and Children & Youth).

Going further, we refine the desired composition of a working group and require at least the following stakeholder categories to participate:

  • Certified PEFC scheme users (e.g. forest owners and managers, forest based industry)
  • Uncertified PEFC scheme users (e.g. certification bodies)
  • Customers and consumers (e.g. retailer organizations, consumer organizations)
  • Civil society (e.g. science, environmental, social and other interest groups)
  • PEFC National Governing Body members

This ensures there is always a balanced group of interests around the table, taking into account the key stakeholders affected by the standard in question. 

What does PEFC do?

Our role at the PEFC International office in Geneva is to coordinate the work of these working groups, providing organizational and administrative support. The role of the PEFC Board of Directors and the PEFC General Assembly is limited to the formal approval (or rejection) of the standard.

source: https://pefc.org/news/pefc-standards-who-writes-them