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Side event: Wednesday 8.30 a.m. – The FSC Online Claims Platform – Views of the membership
The OCP debate goes on
Morten Brodde (Advisor and Project Manager) · FSC Denmark

The recently distributed FSC International Board statement making the use of the Online Claims Platform (OCP) voluntary (but not necessarily in all countries) has been well received among critics of the system. However, there are still aspects of the OCP system that companies have concerns about and which need to be dealt with.

zoomFollowing a first side meeting outlining the current status on FSC’s project the Online Claims Platform (OCP), a second session was held Wednesday morning, giving FSC members and stakeholders the opportunity to express their view on the OCP – the system that is to cope with the existence of incorrect FSC claims. In general, the attendees agreed that the credibility of FSC claims is very important, but opinions differ on how to address it.

Peter Feilberg, executive director of NEPCon, opened the discussion by emphasizing the geographical extent of the problem.

“We have a serious problem within in the system. This case of fraud took place in the heart of Europe. We tend to think that the problem is only appearing in countries far away, but that is not the case, it can be just outside our own doors,” he said, referring to a documented case of chain of custody (CoC) certificate fraud that was brought to his attention. The extent of the problem was also stressed by Alistair Monument of FSC Asia, who estimates that there are problems with one out of four certificates in Asia, but underlined that it is hard to document such fraud.

Some panelists and attendees representing both industry and certification bodies indicated that they, based on own experiences with trade in Europe, do not experience intended fraud with FSC claims.

Criteria – a path forward?

Anand Punja, UK Timber Trade Federation, welcomed the idea of setting CoC criteria to close the gap of incorrect claims, but pleaded for more pilot testing, which was also proposed by others.

“I and many of our members like the idea of putting criteria in the CoC standard to try to cope with the problem. Then people can use OCP if they want to or come up with other ways to meet the criteria. But we strongly support more pilot testing,” Punja said.

A risk-based implementation of the OCP is still being investigated. If decided it may mean that OCP will be mandatory in high-risk countries or industries.

Data security concerns stakeholders

One of the stakeholder concerns about the OCP system is data security, which several among the over 50 attendees mentioned during the session. The concern is that companies using and entering data in the OCP system are vulnerable to criminals with bad intentions.

“I agree that there is a big credibility problem for FSC. But I am confused if OCP is the right system. There is no secure system. What will happen if somebody hacks the system and uses it in a negative way towards companies and FSC, and who is responsible for that?” asked Johan Bjernulf of Stora Enso Skog AB.

Tim Wilson from Historic Futures, who is contracted by FSC to develop the OCP system, agreed that there is no secure system:

“We have to accept that there is some risk. Businesses already keep data online, so we taking a risk every day. We have to assess the level of risk, and we have to balance the data risk and the importance and need of having a credible FSC system. I am happy to engage in that discussion with stakeholders,” he said, and referred to the latest news on the OCP describing data security and data ownership.

At the end of the session, Phil Guillery, Supply Chain Integrity Director, emphasized that FSC International will involve stakeholders in the ongoing process of developing the OCP:

“We recognize that there are a lot of issues we need to address and need to work with. We will be in contact with you and the certificate holders and enjoy meeting with you around these issues,” he said.