Based on its recently concluded Governance Review, PEFC is establishing a new Stakeholder Forum for international forest leaders.
The objective of the forum is to provide a neutral meeting place for global forest leaders to collaborate and influence the agenda related to sustainable forest management and certification. In addition, it provides an opportunity to guide and influence the decisions of PEFC International.
Membership is open to international entities, including NGOs, associations, businesses, (inter-)governmental bodies, UN organizations and other key stakeholders supporting the objectives of PEFC.
WWF: Positive steps, but not enough
According to PEFC, initial feedback suggests strong interest in the Stakeholder Forum. However, based on recent assessments, one key stakeholder - the WWF - has announced its decision not to join the PEFC process at the present stage.
In a related statement, WWF highlighted some key issues. One of them is PEFC's definition of controversial sources which is limited to ‘illegal or unauthorized harvesting’ and does not take other critical aspects, such as indigenous peoples' rights, into account.
WWF recognized positive steps outlined in the PEFC Governance Review, but said that "WWF believes that PEFC would need to take additional steps to comply with international best practice in stakeholder participation, transparency and truly responsible forest management." The organisation also said that the new Stakeholder Forum will "fall far short of guaranteeing a process which elicits balanced decisions" as "there are no mechanisms to ensure that decisions are not dominated by a single interest group".
WWF encouraged the PEFC General Assembly to strengthen the credibility of the PEFC system by implementing key reforms related to equitable stakeholder participation, transparency, and consistency among national schemes. Based on such improvements, the WWF would re-assess its position on joining the PEFC process.
This feedback from WWF may form an important contribution to the upcoming revision of several PEFC core documents, where PEFC has announced that special focus will be placed on enhancing criteria to allow optimal stakeholder participation.