The latest State of the World’s Forestsreport, from the UN FAO, analyses how forests and trees contribute to 28 targets across ten Sustainable Development Goals. Echoing the urgency of the recent IPCC report, UN FAO emphasise that swift action is needed to avoid damaging consequences.
Ministers attending the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC adopted the 'Ministerial Katowice Declaration on Forests for Climate', which highlights the significant role of sustainable forest management in achieving climate change commitments in the Paris Agreement.
A private member's Bill was introduced in Canada to introduce mandatory company reporting on childlabour and modern slavery through the imposition of certain measures and amending the Customs Tariff. The draft can be found here. It now requires government approval to pass.
Hamleys and Amazon took the Frootiputti slime toy off their shelves after the product failed safety tests for boron, a substance that can impair fertility. The test, by consumer group WHICH?, found the product had four times the EU limit for boron in toys.
In the recent Forest forum meeting we shared Complicit in Corruption - a recent report written by non-profit Earthsight, highlighting the widespread corruption in Ukraine's forests, and revealing how illegality permeates the timber supply chain in Ukraine from harvest to export.
Earthsight spent two years running field and undercover investigations in Ukraine. Approximately 70% of Ukraine's timber exports enter the EU and Earthsight's investigations indicate that 40% of this timber is being illegally harvest or traded. The report also claims that a significant volume of illegally harvested timber has received the FSC stamp - the former chief of one of the largest timber producing state-forest enterprises admitted to Earthsight he had found it easy to circumvent FSC checks.
The Australian Modern Slavery Act passed in December 2018. The Act sets a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement to require certain large businesses and other entities in Australia to make annual public reports - Modern Slavery Statements - on their actions to address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains.
India “has the capacity to clean up, but not the political will”. This piece from the Economist’s Asia edition cites political apathy towards pollution and failures to listen to middle classes as two of the most significant factors in India’s continuing struggle with environmental protection. The country also shows mixed responses to their climate change commitments, as data shows a significant preference for coal power generation over cleaner gas-fired plants.
The Norwegian parliament voted to make Norway the world's first country to ban its biofuel industry from importing deforestation-linked palm oil starting in 2020. A 2017 report by Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) showed palm oil-based biofuels have a more detrimental effect on climate change than using fossil fuels. The resolution calls on the government "to formulate a comprehensive proposal for policies and taxes in the biofuels policy in order to exclude biofuels with high deforestation risk."
Japanese police are investigating a possible human trafficking operation after arresting 11 Chinese construction workers at a solar power plant over visa violations and finding another 46 have fled. The case comes as Japan faceslabour shortages owing to an ageing population and political discussions are now considering legislation to allow more foreign workers.
In a bid to clean up China’s second largest freshwater lake, local authorities in Hunan Province will close all pulp and paper mills around Dongting Lake by the end of 2019. The c18,000 people employed in the Province's pulp and paper industry will be supported by the local authorityin to new employment. This move is part of wider water pollution controls active since 2006 in Hunan Province. They have led to closures of over 200 waste paper pulping factories and 30 pulp and paper making facilities. The efforts to restore the lake over the past 40 years have helped it extend its area by 30%, providing better flood resilience in the region.
The Atlantic Forest is the only biome protected under federal law in Brazil, under the Atlantic Forest Act, 2006. In late 2017, UN Environment and the National Association of Municipal Environment Agencies (ANAMMA) joined the effort to develop a wide-scale conservation project across 17 Brazilian states.
Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’.
Set against panoramic views of the WWT London Wetlands Centre, we gathered together 11 speakers covering 5 sessions, and invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers to attend. Altogether, we had a packed room with over 60 people in attendance and speakers from a variety of companies.
The speakers covered various topics including; the economics behind recent pulp price rises; the various pressures on mill groups around the world; deforestation hotpots and NGO efforts to keep corporate commitments on track. We also dedicated a session to the issue of plastic where we had the lead Plastics Campaign manager from Friends of the Earth examining the different recyclable alternatives available and how these options could be implemented into the book making industry. In addition to that, with pressure to tackle human rights abuses in all supply chains from the Modern Slavery statements, we ran a session on human rights and heard some hard-hitting examples of corporate engagement to correct previous abuses with the help of the Forest Peoples Programme.
The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
Malaysia has shown positive intent to resolve the Nepali migrant worker crisis. The crisis started after Nepal government shut dubious visa processing agencies that illegally charged fees from Nepali workers. Both parties discussed about the probability of some temporary arrangement for the departure workers already cleared by the Malaysian Immigration and who have paid for Immigration Security Clearance and biometric identification test. The Malaysian government plans to introduce reforms in migrant labour sector. Malaysia will move ahead at the ministerial level after discussions end with clarity. It will hold another round of consultations with labour source countries to resolve all issues.
A database of over 4,000 chemical substances potentially found in plastic packaging, has been made publicly available. The Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPP) database (see CW; CRM) is the outcome of a collaboration between seven NGOs and research organisations in Europe and the US. The work has been submitted to Science of the Total Environment, and is now available, prior to peer review, as a preprint. The database is provided with the preprint as supplementary information.
EU member approved the proposal to restrict the phthalates DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP in articles. The four phthalates are on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs for their reprotoxic as well as endocrine disrupting properties. Under the proposal they would be restricted to a concentration equal to or below 0.1% by weight individually or in any combination in any plasticised material in articles used by consumers or those used in indoor areas. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers now have three months to scrutinise the measure and the restriction will then be published in the EU’s Official Journal and will apply 18 months after the entry into force to products produced both in and outside of the EU.
The rise of robots in manufacturing in Southeast Asia is likely to fuel modern-day slavery as workers who end up unemployed due to automation face abuses competing for a shrinking pool of low-paid jobs in a “race to the bottom”. Especially, the workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines — at least 137 million people — risk losing their jobs because of the automation in the next two decades. Those workers are more vulnerable to workplace abuses as they jostle for fewer jobs at lower wages.
In order to help consumers make informed choices for safer products while increasing pressure to substitute substances of concern, ECHA is going to establish a new database on the presence of hazardous chemicals in articles by the end of 2019 for waste treatment operators and consumers. The database will comprise information submitted by companies producing, importing or selling articles that contain Candidate List substances. Companies need to submit this information by the end of 2020. The work is based on the revised waste framework directive that entered into force in July 2018. It is part of the EU’s waste legislation package, contributing to the EU's circular economy policy.
The Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) is a collaborative effort to accelerate progress and improve accountability for responsible supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry. Recently, the initiative has released the first draft of their framework for improving accountability for responsible supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry, including as set of the core principles & definitions, a practical operational guidance. The initiative is now preparing to expand on the principles in an operational manual, and they are inviting input and feedback from as many companies, government entities, non-profits, and other stakeholders as possible.
The World Economic Forum recently published research suggesting consumers in a few key emerging market producer countries (Indonesia and Brazil) and importing countries (China and India) together account for 40% of global consumption of the four commodities most associated with tropical deforestation—soy, beef, palm, and wood products. The authors project that by 2025 demand for these commodities within these four countries could increase by 43%, resulting in forest areas equivalent to the size of Nigeria being cut down every. Increasing demand for meat and calorie-rich foods, regulatory changes, and shifts in constraints for domestic production will all be key factors in fueling demand in these emerging market economies.
Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’. There are 60 people from invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers in attendance. 11 speakers from a variety of companies talked about topics on pulp price rising, mill pressures, deforestation hotpots, plastic issues and modern slavery etc. The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.