Progress and Options for Forest Certification in Complex  Governance and Socio-Political Settings
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Progress and Options for Forest Certification in Complex Governance and Socio-Political Settings Michael Richards Consultant to Forest Trends. Introduction. Objectives: assess progress & impacts (original rationale); review evolving and innovative approaches;

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Progress and Options for Forest Certification in Complex Governance and Socio-Political SettingsMichael RichardsConsultant to Forest Trends

Introduction Governance and Socio-Political Settings

  • Objectives:

    • assess progress & impacts (original rationale);

    • review evolving and innovative approaches;

    • inform future options for certification

  • Methodology: literature review, key informant discussions and 7 ‘mini case studies’

  • “Complex settings”: major forest governance problems - focus here on 4 main regions

Impacts Governance and Socio-Political Settings

  • Main impact on FMUs operating slightly below ‘gold standard’: less impact on ‘across the board’ management standards - size of ‘standards gap’ is major disincentive for most FMUs

  • Positive impacts:-

    • increased company and supply-chain transparency;

    • forest planning, inventory, monitoring benefits;

    • more participatory forest policy process;

    • social benefits in industrial forest concession areas;

    • non-market benefits for community forestry;

    • complements legal and institutional reform, e.g., Bolivia

    • domestic market interest in some mid-income countries.

  • But also difficulties, especially equity problems: e.g., encroachment of customary rights in S-E Asia; high costs and limited market benefits for CFEs

Modified/evolving approaches Governance and Socio-Political Settings

  • ‘Stepwise’ approach allows bite-size improvements, incentives: tackles ‘standards gap’ problem

  • Modular Implementation and Verification (MIV) system

  • IKEA, Home Depot, etc. have own stepwise systems

  • But concerns: proliferation/confusion; will ‘transition timber’ lower standards?

  • Group certification and FSC SLIMF initiative

  • National producer groups set up by WWF GFTN

  • Tropical Forest Trust - links retailers and producers

  • Keurhout scheme: endorsed certificates Malaysia, Africa

  • Environmentally responsible investment: Equator Principles, Forest Investment Forum

The difficult economics of certification - and SFM Governance and Socio-Political Settings

  • Small or absent premium and high costs (including opportunity costs of SFM = foregone windfall profits)

  • SFM implies shift to multiple species, products and services - but markets for environmental services (PES), LKS and (certified) NTFPs poorly developed

    NB Premium should compensate environmental services of SFM

  • Consequences: certification and SFM are likely to be donor-led and subsidised until markets developed and opportunity costs reduced by improved forest governance

Conclusions and dilemmas
Conclusions and dilemmas Governance and Socio-Political Settings

  • Too much expected too soon: SFM is very difficult due to a range of market, policy and governance failures - certification does not significantly effect the underlying economic problems

  • Since it is not market-driven (in tropics), certification is often imposed in inappropriate governance conditions, and isolated from policy/governance efforts

  • Better progress in countries with improving governance and national FSC processes

  • Dilemmas:

Priorities and recommendations
Priorities and recommendations Governance and Socio-Political Settings

  • Balance certification efforts and establishing policy and governance pre-conditions:

    • regulatory reforms and control of illegal logging can reduce ‘standards gap’ and increase incentives

    • promote more equitable forest legislation, and clear property and tenure rights

    • develop local stakeholder capacity to participate

  • Balance between fast and slow track: certification could follow mandatory legal compliance, but special attention needed to equity issues like customary tenure

  • Integrate certification into broader governance approach, e.g., use it to create regulatory incentives (Bolivia) but compulsory certification is problematic

Priorities recommendations cont
Priorities/recommendations (cont.) Governance and Socio-Political Settings

  • Develop markets for PES, LKS and NTFPs

  • Encourage national buyer groups, consumer education

  • Encourage socially responsible policies in corporate and financial sector (due diligence, sustainable investment principles)

  • Rationalise certification to make it doable, e.g., Sumatra - 240 indicators

  • More flexible and possibly non-market process for community forestry (CIFOR C&I as an example)