IKEA of Sweden and FAO to work together on sustainable forest management

Partnership will help forest-reliant communities in Viet Nam access supply chains – Could spark similar efforts elsewhere

3 June 2015, Rome - FAO and IKEA of Sweden today agreed to begin working together on a forestry certification initiative aimed at promoting the sustainable management of forest plantations and empowering forest-reliant communities in Viet Nam.

Following the signing today of a cooperation agreement by Anders Hildeman, Global Forestry Manager for IKEA of Sweden, and FAO's Assistant-Director General for Forestry, Eduardo Rojas-Briales, the two organizations will undertake an initial analysis to evaluate options for advancing forest certification schemes and sustainable forest management in Northern Vietnam.

Certification provides a mechanism for monitoring the sustainability of forest management and for tracing timber and other forest products through supply chains to ensure they were produced and handled responsibly and in compliance with the law.

Good forest certification schemes also seek to monitor the social and economic well-being of forest workers and communities, promoting their equitable access to international markets.

To gain certification, products are evaluated according to an independent, third-party standard. Those that meet the standard earn a "stamp of approval" or "ecolabel" so that purchasers and consumers know they were produced in a legal, sustainable and socially responsible way.

Next steps

The planned IKEA-FAO study will look into options and barriers to effective forest certification in northern Viet Nam, including:

  • Assessing local legal and regulatory frameworks and the quality of local forest resource assessments
  • Locating communities and producer organizations that could potentially benefit from participating in a certification scheme to access IKEA supply chains
  • Identifying barriers to the certification process and issues which have been or are currently hindering it

The study will also assess the potential for scaling up its activities and replicating them on a larger scale elsewhere.

"Millions of people rely on forests for their food and incomes, and certification schemes can offer them a tool for safeguarding their interests and preserving their forests, as well as fairer access to new markets" said Rojas-Briales. "However certification poses special challenges to small-growers and communities for whom the burden of engaging in certification may be too high if they are not supported. We are glad to be partnering with IKEA to look at how hurdles to forest certification can be overcome, with the wellbeing of forest communities featuring front-and-center."

"IKEA has committed to source responsibly and contribute to the sustainability of forest management. A very important wood supply comes from smallholders around the world. This partnership is not only about how the forests are managed in Viet Nam, but about improving the everyday life of people in the countryside," said Hildeman.

"This partnership is yet another example of a sustainability-minded, private sector company responding to FAO's call for allies in helping build a hunger-free world," added Margarete Arnesson Ciotti, Programme Manager at the Swedish Permanent Representation to FAO.

Photo: ©FAO/Joan Manuel Baliellas
A worker at a planted forest in Viet Nam transports seedlings.