Adding FSC’s Voice to the Climate Change Convention

Climate change is the most critical issue facing humanity today – and it is the environmental issue most widely reported upon around the globe. Forests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change, and FSC supports their health and long-term survival. With the world’s focus on climate change, FSC is uniquely positioned to put responsible forestry at the centre of public policy, business practice, and NGO strategies.

Mike Bekin,
Individual member, Economic North,
Director, Ecochoice UK Ltd

Mike Galante,
Individual member, Economic North,
Director, Climate Forestry

“…be both precise in our intent and bold in our actions. We must look at ourselves and our operating environment with fresh eyes. We must bring our best thinking and creativity and seek deeper alliances with those who share our values and goals.” FSC Director General, Kim Carstensen, FSC Global Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

At the Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil in June 1992, government officials, businesses and NGO representatives from around the world came together to tackle some of the world’s biggest issues. Unsurprisingly, achieving sustainable management and protection of the world’s tropical forests was high on the agenda.

The following year, FSC was developed as a voluntary tool to provide economic, environmental, and social safeguards to promote responsible management of the world’s forests, and to communicate the need for urgent action to stabilise deforestation and forest degradation, and mitigate the effects of anthropogenic climate change.

With deforestation accounting for more than 15 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions[1] in the atmosphere, reducing the rate of deforestation is crucial to mitigating the disastrous impacts of climate change, which remains a fundamental ideal of FSC. However, the world lost 47 per cent more tree cover in 2015 than in 2001[2] – it’s as if the people of the world don’t know about the link between forests and climate change!

Where are the World’s Forests in Paris?

The 2015 Paris Agreement at the annual Climate Change Convention was hailed as a landmark international agreement, where 194 countries signed up to sweeping pledges on the environment, marking an unprecedented unification from nearly all countries around the world to combat climate change.

Forests had already been identified as a key tool in the fight against climate change back at the inception of the Climate Change Convention, and more recently in 2010 at negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. There, parties agreed on the ‘Cancun Safeguards’, designed to protect forests against potential risks, while promoting their benefits, through a series of laws, regulations, institutional arrangements, and information systems.

Over time, further decisions on safeguards were adopted, leading to the completion of the ‘Cancun Safeguards’ in 2013 in Warsaw, Poland. Since then, FSC has missed a great opportunity to engage with parties, especially at the Paris convention, and to demonstrate how it can support governments to meet their greenhouse gas emissions commitments under the Climate Change Convention Paris Agreement.

Motion 21 seeks to close this gap by raising awareness of FSC as a critical tool to fight climate change. Very little investment is needed to clarify the contribution of FSC to this global issue, but such focus needs to be a priority for the system in the next three years in order to make the most of the current interest in climate change mitigation under the Paris Agreement.

Capturing the World’s Attention
Climate change dominates news and social media feeds around the world every day – it is now the main lens through which nearly all environmental and social issues are viewed and reported upon. And the world is insatiable in its appetite to learn more about effective tools for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

FSC is one such tool, and yet, it is rarely discussed in the same breath as the issue holding the world’s attention. By not explicitly linking the work of FSC to its contributions to mitigate climate change through the Climate Change Convention, FSC is missing a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness of its system and increase uptake of FSC certification.

Save Forests and Stop Climate Change
The FSC Global Strategic Plan 2015-2020 declares FSC’s intention to more than double our share of global forest-based trade in the next three years to 20 per cent – the ’20 by 2020’ goal. Motion 21 encourages FSC advocacy to support parties to the Climate Change Convention, which in turn, may lead to an increase in the demand for FSC-certified materials and products.

Climate change mitigation through the Climate Change Convention has been an original ideal since the founding of FSC. But we, as founders and members, need to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of how FSC can support parties to the Climate Change Convention – we just have to be bold and brave enough to do it.

More details about Motion 21 can be found at

[1] IPCC, 2009 Barcelona climate conference


The views expressed in the opinion pieces released both prior to and at the FSC General Assembly are the personal opinion of the author, and do not represent the views of FSC. Different members were approached to provide two sides of each argument, but some members exercised their right to decline.