In future, PEFC certified companies and forest operations will need to take heed of social issues in order to maintain their certificate.
Based on new requirements built into the PEFC standards, they will all be audited for compliance with core ILO conventions detailing workers’ rights. In the forest, indigenous peoples’ rights are covered as well.
Workers’ rights secured in the Chain of Custody
The PEFC Chain of Custody standard now includes an annex outlining the “Social, health and safety requirements in chain of custody”. There are five requirements:
1. Workers’ freedom of associations and rights for collective bargaining are ensured;
2. The organization does not use forced labor;
3. Establishment and enforcement of minimum age for employees;
4. Provision of equal employment;
5. Occupational health and safety is ensured, and the company is documenting and reporting on this issue.
Companies are also required to have a policy in place for securing compliance with the requirements.
Besides the focus on social issues, there are several other changes contained in the new CoC requirements. Among these is a new and expanded definition of ‘controversial sources’.
Indigenous peoples’ rights to be respected
PEFC has also released new requirements for Sustainable Forest Management that need to be covered by national schemes seeking PEFC endorsement.
PEFC now requires the UN declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and the ILO Convention 160 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples to be respected in PEFC certified forests.
Workers’ rights, as specified in the core ILO conventions, are also covered.
The requirements come into force on the 12th of May 2011, after which date national forestry certification schemes seeking PEFC endorsement will be evaluated against them.
“This is clearly a step forward for the PEFC system”, says PEFC expert of NEPCon Michael K. Jakobsen. “PEFC has been the target of criticism for ignoring social issues and in particular indigenous peoples’ rights in forest management. PEFC is now addressing the issues, and once these new requirements have been built into PEFC-endorsed national schemes, indigenous people’s rights will be much better secured in PEFC-certified forests”.
In our next newsletter, we will provide more detailed information about the new requirements and deadlines for compliance.
Other changes in the PEFC system
Six core PEFC documents revised (15/12 2010)
PEFC chain of custody system to cover social issues? (8/6 2010)
Social criteria now considered in UK timber procurement (16/2 2010)