Global Legal and Sustainable Timber Forum in China stresses timber's role in circular bioeconomies; participants discuss forming partnerships, promoting legal and sustainable trade, using digital tracing technology, establishing timber industrial parks

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MACAO SAR, China , November 29, 2023 (press release) –

Timber is a crucial material for a sustainable future, according to 700 participants from governments, enterprises, international organizations and research institutions at the inaugural Global Legal and Sustainable Timber Forum (GLSTF), which issued a set of nine actions to ensure the stability of the timber sector’s future based on legal and sustainable forest management and supply chains.

The aim of the Forum, which was convened jointly by ITTO, the Global Green Supply Chain Initiative and the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute and held in Macao SAR, China, on 21–22 November 2023, was to bring together the key players in the global timber sector and map a course for the sector’s future sustainable development.

“Timber is an environmentally-friendly, renewable, carbon-storing, recyclable material and thus a pillar of sustainability when produced, processed, traded and used legally and sustainably,” said ITTO Executive Director Sheam Satkuru during the Forum. “We believe in the benefit of bringing all stakeholders in the sector together because forests and timber are vital for the planet’s future.”

The world is facing many challenges, such as economic volatility stemming from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, global conflicts, trade wars, rising energy prices, climate change, biodiversity loss and resource pressure.

But Forum participants agreed that such challenges present opportunities for timber to become a cornerstone of circular bio-economies.

A sustainable and resilient timber industry, it was asserted, would not only contribute to wealth creation but also support healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of climate change. The sustainable use of timber can also help safeguard other forest services, such as conserving biodiversity, soil and water, storing carbon, preventing land degradation, and reducing the risk of disasters.

After two days of extremely interesting presentations and discussions, consensus emerged among participants about key strategies to promote the legal and sustainable development of the global timber industry and accelerate its recovery. These include the following nine key actions:

1)    Strong networks and partnerships: there is an urgent need for strong networks and partnerships built on mutual respect and trust to support legal and sustainable forest management and timber supply chains.

2)    Nature-based solutions: building and improving legal and sustainable timber supply chains should be recognized as key nature-based solutions from local-to-global challenges.

3)    Trade promotion: the trade of legal and sustainable timber products should be promoted to facilitate a stable, fair, transparent and predictable environment for the recovery and growth of the global timber industry.

4)    Global Legal and Sustainable Timber Forum: the Forum is a necessary platform for scaling up cooperation and information exchange between the public and private sectors and should be held annually.

5)    The Global Timber Index: this initiative, which has been piloted for about a year and was officially launched at the forum, improves the quality and regularity of timber market information, encouraging greater information exchange in the private sector, and enhancing the efficiency of policy formulation. It should be continued and scaled up.

6)    Advanced technology and traceability: the use of new technologies, tools and methodologies should be encouraged to help ensure the legitimacy and sustainability of timber resources, including the implementation of sustainable forest management and digital timber traceability.

7)    Financial mechanisms: innovative financial mechanisms, such as payments for ecosystem services, should be further developed and used to increase investment in support of sustainable forest management and sustainable supply chains.

8)    Timber industrial parks: legal and sustainable timber industrial parks should be established to incubate enterprises as models for the wider industry, thereby accelerating the adoption of best practices and advanced technologies.

9)    Support: the global timber industry requires more support for adopting advanced technologies as a means for accelerating its sustainable development.

At its conclusion, the Forum urged participants to continue working together by connecting, cooperating, and sharing knowledge. The inaugural GLSTF, planned to be an annual event, has emerged as a cornerstone for building this global network.

Access photos of the GLSTF here.

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