Protecting FSC’s reputation 

by María Luisa Muñoz-Cobo (FSC Latinoamérica)

The purpose of this side meeting was to mark and identify the scope of controversial activities by actors associated with FSC, such as certificate holders, certificate bodies, donors, and network partners.
The workshop goal, as noted by Stefan Salvador, Director, Quality Assurance Unit, FSC International, was to “review the procedures and mechanisms – that is, the existing portfolio of rules – in order to take action to protect FSC’s reputation, and reinforce FSC’s rights.”
“Our goal is to protect FSC from potentially bad actions,” added Salem Jones, Program Manager, Dispute Resolution, FSC International.
A closer review of these available mechanisms in recent dispute resolution cases highlighted the lack of a risk-based approach to determine which are the most important controversial activities, a lack of consistency in applying measures, and an urgent need for resources and guidelines to quickly identify an action as a controversial one.
“We need to study alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and the possibility of taking measures under the trademark licence agreement, to protect FSC’s reputation,” said Amparo Arellano, Manager, Dispute Resolution, FSC International.
After looking at the mechanisms used to identify controversial activities and for dispute resolution, Amparo Arellano presented three cases, with the aim of allowing the audience to understand the FSC dispute resolution process.
Amparo also highlighted issues for consideration when dealing with controversial activities, such as specification versus flexibility and lack of guidance on when and how to apply measures – meaning how concerned we should be in each case, because sometimes FSC doesn’t have enough resources to investigate all the issues.
The main objectives of the workshop were not just to review the procedures and mechanisms available for FSC to take action to protect its reputation, but also to assess – through a series of practical case studies – whether the existing mechanisms adequately address controversial activities and identify any gaps..
The desired outcome of this workshop was to obtain informed input for the development of a final proposal.