Transparency and stakeholder dialogue were in focus this year: on Friday, the members passed one motion and rejected another that aimed for enhanced transparency and stakeholder involvement.
The outcome of the votings on Friday 1 July resulted in a mixed message: While the members agreed that FSC needs to engage more with its members around the implementation of passed motions, a suggestion to make certification reports more widely available was turned down by the membership.
Green light to motion on motions
“Every three years we, the FSC members, convene to dicuss and negotiate motions. It is very difficult to reach consensus, but at the end of the week we approve a number of motions. Sometimes three years pass without any information about the implementation of the motions. And some motions are not implemented at all, or they are implemented in a different way than what was agreed by the members. This undermines the trust that we have in each other and in the system”.
This message was delivered by Mauricio Voivodic, Executive Director of Imaflora, as he presented Motion 4 to the audience. The motion asks FSC to ensure implementation of passed motions, and to engage with the motions’ proponents in that process. A forest of green voting cards showed that it resonated strongly with FSC’s members.
FSC’s General Director André de Freitas expressed his clear support to Motion 4: “This is a great motion overall and the FSC staff is very favorable to it”, he said.
FSC’s members will now expect to see passed motions realised to their full extent. However, the question remains whether FSC has the capacity to fulfil all the expectations. Currently, there is no system in place for ensuring that there is a good match between available resources and the actions required by all passed motions put together. In his final speech, Mr. de Freitas addressed the issue by asking how FSC can engage its members in prioritising activities.
Red card to enhanced data access
Greenpeace’s motion 30 asked for access to the full contents of FSC and ASI auditing reports, except for confidential contents. Jakob Ryding of Forests of the World highligthed the NGOs’ role as credibility guards: “We are in the fortunate situation that we have a lot of NGOs involved who are looking over the CBs’ shoulder and trying to make sure that nothing dodgy is going on. But we don’t have access to the full contents of Forest management reports and no acess at all to Chain of Custody and Controlled Wood reports”.
A clear tradeff to satisfy the economic chamber, the motion also proposed to remove the current requirement for translation of forest management reports into one of the ‘FSC languages’ (English or Spanish).
The motion led to lively debate. While industry representatives were concerned about confidentiality issues, others said that omitting translations does not help transparency. Some questioned the ‘rough and ready’ Google Translate, while others found it unproblematic and said it was more important to get access to the full content of the reports. It was pointed out that the certification bodies have contractual obligations to protect confidentiality.
Peter Kristensen, Vice President of CSR and Environment at DLH, said: “I strongly support this motion. I have no problem with our own CoC reports being made public if the confidential parts are removed. With Google Translate I don’t see the translation as a big issue. The reduced cost appears far more important than the minor implications for transparency”.
The motion came close to approval but did not quite make it. It will be of no surprise if the issue re-surfaces during the next General Assembly.