Wednesday 10 September, 11:00 – 12:30 - FSC + 20 Forum – Good money: increasing the social and environmental returns from forest investments
Investing in forests also helps people
Tony Mendonça (FSC GA Youth Correspondent)

When acquiring a FSC certified product, you ensure that you are supporting a cause which respects people's rights, as well as protect the environment we all live in.

zoom (© FSC A.C.) © FSC A.C.Did you know that Building Wood Workers International (BWI), a global union federation that represents 12 million wood workers in 135 countries, is working for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil? During the FSC+20 Forum, in which was discussed how can be increased the social and environmental returns from forest investments, Ambet Yuson, BWI’s General Secretary, highlighted this as an example of ‘good money’. “We have to use certified wood for the Olympics,” he said.

“(Certified) forestry is protecting the rights of the workers,” claimed Yuson. If enterprises invest in acquiring certification, more people would benefit because their human rights are protected as well as their basic workers rights, which are established in the Declaration of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Therefore, FSC-certified companies invest not only in nature, but also in human capital. “We need to move workers from informal to formal work because it will improve their benefits as well as their skills; therefore, it will increase productivity (…) if we invest in that, it will have a long-term change,” he claimed.

“Now, 80 billion dollars are invested in new forests in Brazil,” said Elizabeth de Carvalhães, CEO of Brazilian Tree Industry (IBÁ). Investing in certified forests means a better future for future generations, because it will guarantee employment equity and, as de Carvalhães said, responding “to the social demand by employing people.” She pointed out that it is important to bear in mind this fact: “Brazil exports 61 percent of its paper and 94 percent of its pulp”. Since much of the world’s paper products come from Brazil, increasing the demand for FSC-certified products can have a great impact on the livelihoods and living conditions of Brazilians.

“As we are indifferent to social inequality, we are indifferent to sustainability,” claimed Ignacio Pinto, COO of TECHO Global, a non-profit organization that mobilizes youth volunteers to fight extreme poverty in Latin America by constructing transitional housing and implementing social inclusion programs. This is why, Pinto said, we must “take sustainability to other dimensions”. In this sense, Janos Pasztor of World Wildlife Fund claimed: “some people have many definitions for sustainability, like sustain profit, be environmentally OK or sustain social, but we have to look at it all together.”

It would seem that part of the economic importance on forests relies on demand, and since demand will continue to grow, new generations have an important role in finding sustainability. Speaking to these generations, Ignacio Pinto emphasized that young people need to “find a reason and go for it.”