Toward a Sensible Approach to Sustainability in the Global Supply Chain

How to source forest products sustainably and without headaches for procurement


Given the variety of certification systems now available, procurement executives must create procurement policies squarely based on performance to ensure those policies endure. One means of doing so is to develop an inclusive approach to procurement rather than an exclusive one – that is, policies should give preference to a range of independent, third-party forest certification standards rather than favoring any one certification label in particular.

While anti-forestry activists may urge forest product buyers to adopt one certification standard over another, the facts remain that the major standards are equally rigorous and that favoring one standard over another because of activist pressure can create situations that are generally not favorable to forest product purchasers. Exclusive procurement policies that favor one particular certification standard over others can result in increased costs to purchasers and limited supply.

More recently, companies have adopted procurement policies that appear to satisfy NGO concerns while remaining inclusive by giving preference to a range of independent, third-party forest certification standards.

The sample procurement policy (see sidebar) can serve as a reference for forest product buyers worldwide. This type of policy, focused on environmental criteria rather than on geopolitical locations or brand-specific requirements, provides enhanced flexibility to buyers while ensuring the procured forest products are from well-managed forests.

About the Author: An advisor to industry and government, Dr. Patrick Moore is a co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace and chair and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. in Vancouver, Canada. His new book, “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist,” is available at www.sensibleenvironmentalist.com and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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