Linking FSC to the Sustainable Development Goals 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hold a great opportunity for businesses to engage with making a positive change for people and the planet in a clear and structured way. But what are the business aspects of the SDGs? And why should FSC play a role in realizing them? 

By Ida Rehnström, FSC Denmark

The SDGs were adopted by the UN in 2015. The 17 goals aim for: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. Being relevant to areas like life on land, water, no poverty, and gender equality, FSC covers 11 of the 17 goals.

According to John Hontelez, Chief Advocacy Officer at FSC, 2018 holds a big opportunity for FSC to claim its role in fulfilling the SDGs as the High-Level Political Forum is putting a special focus on SDG15 ‘life on land’ and SDG12 ‘production and consumption’, among other forest-relevant SDGs.

According to Hontelez: “We will see – like we did this year where marine issues were on the agenda – that everywhere around the world there will be specific events focusing on these targets.”

As certification is also one of the indicators for reaching the target (15.2) on sustainable forest management, FSC has a great opportunity to advance over the next year.

SDGsa multi-trillion dollar business!

“The current model of economic development has left a legacy of global burdens posing a mounting business cost and a barrier to growth,” said Matthew Reddy, Director of the Forest Solutions Group at WBCSD, here to talk about the business side of the SDGs.

He showed how the negative economic impact of global burdens related to biodiversity and ecosystems are actually the second biggest after violence and armed conflict. This means that the way we do business and consume today is impacting not only our nature but the economy too. So for Reddy this leads to the conclusion: “Business as usual is not viable”.

The good news is that we can translate these global needs into business solutions. Reddy presented research showing that achieving the SDGs could unlock as much as USD12 trillion a year in business value by 2030 alone, creating more than 380 million jobs.

FSC as a way to reach the goals

Here to share some inspiration on how FSC can support companies to reach their SDG goals was Udo Felten, Manager, Product Related Global Environmental Sustainability and Affairs at SIG.

“We demand for 100 per cent FSC supply to promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests,” said Felten. “FSC can also support us on SDG goals for clean water, no poverty, climate action, decent work, gender equality, and responsible production and consumption.”

Move beyond where you are now

Representing NGOs was Julia Young from WWF UK. She highlighted how the SDGs are very useful in getting to an understanding of why things such as forest certification are relevant, as one can easily understand how the SDGs link to areas like water, health, and decent jobs. As part of goal-setting, Young had this recommendation for businesses: “Companies will look at SDGs and see the ones that are immediately obvious to them, that fit to their business. I would recommend a second view, that is – can I affect some of those others?” According to Young, many businesses don’t realize all the potential areas they are actually related too. They should “not just look at where they are now, but at where they could be”.

FSC as a tool to minimize risk?

A question from the room was put on the risk of businesses green-washing with the SDGs, since they are so easy to communicate.

Felten had a clear answer to that: “Isn’t that what is so great about certification? It does the work for us? I don’t think that the robustness a system like FSC gives can be overstated.”