Making markets better

Multi-stakeholder initiatives, like roundtables and dialogues, are global fora that bring many of the key players on both the production and buying sides of a given commodity supply chain together with Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The primary goal of these initiatives is to set voluntary production standards for members to follow. These standards aim to improve the sustainability of a commodity’s production by reducing environmental and social impacts.
Once voluntary standards are agreed, many roundtables evolve into independent certification schemes that allow buyers to be assured that their purchasing decisions contribute to environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable commodity production.

WWF has been involved in establishing several roundtables that certify some of the commodities which have impacts on the places and species we care about:

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): Since 1993, FSC promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certification is important to WWF’s conservation goal of reducing the loss of high conservation value areas (see box), as it provides a link between the responsible production and consumption of forest products, and allows the consumer to make responsible purchasing decisions. Find out how an FSC Certified paper plantation has helped conserve a vital wetland and extend the habitat of endangered species, and sustainable forest management offers hope for Borneo’s endangered orang-utans.

Certification for sustainable timber sourcing continues to grow. As of August 2013, the FSC has more than 160 million hectares of forests certified to its social, economic and environmental standards. This covers more than 14% of global production forests as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Further, 53.4% global recycled pulp and paper production is FSC certified, and 6.6% of virgin fibre used for pulp and paper production is FSC certified (based on FAO and FSC data, August 2013).

WWF engages with the forest related industry through its Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), comprising more than 260 companies employing over 1.5 million people, and manages approximately 21.1 million hectares of credibly certified forests and 5.1 million hectares in progress to certification. GFTN is responsible for 14% of the global total of FSC certified forest area and sells $64 billion in forest product annually - an estimated 18% of the global total of forest products traded per year.

GFTN was established to assist companies in implementing responsible forest management and sourcing forest products from responsibly managed forests. First established in 1991, it is the world’s longest-running and largest forest and trade programme of its kind—providing assistance to hundreds of companies in many countries.

For the most recent FSC facts and figures, please see the Types and Distribution of Global FSC Certificates, a monthly publication. For the most recent GFTN factsheets, click here.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC): Since 1999, the Marine Stewardship Council works to tip global seafood markets towards sustainability by certifying responsibly managed wild fisheries, and making sustainable seafood globally available.

The MSC wild fisheries certification scheme continues to transform the global seafood market. Over 20,000 products carry the MSC ecolabel. Over 315 fisheries are engaged in the MSC programme. Together, these fisheries land over 10 million metric tons of seafood annually, or about 11% of global wild harvest. For the most recent information, see the MSC website.

Most recent data from MSC and FAO suggest that 52% of global Whitefish production, and 12.65% of global Tuna production are MSC certified (based on avaliable data August 2013).

Find out more about WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative, which works with fishers, fisheries managers, seafood traders and retailers to reform commercial marine fisheries towards long-term sustainability – where seafood is harvested in a way that sustains and protects the marine environment, the species within it, and the people who depend on them.  

Read the most recent MSC Facts and Figures and find out how solutions developed to satisfy MSC criteria have become legal requirements in the South African whitefish industry and companies can lobby Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) for better tuna management practices.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO): The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) promotes the production and purchase of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) through its certification scheme.

The RSPO has achieved several milestones: as of June 2012, almost 7 million tons of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) and certified sustainable palm kernel oil (CSPK) were produced by 154 certified palm oil mills with a production area of over 1.3 million hectares. Sustainable palm oil represents 16.4% of global palm oil production (based on FAO and RSPO data, August 2013).

To track the most recent levels of certified palm oil production, please see the RSPO's key statistics and find out how WWF works with the RSPO to continuously improve palm oil standards so they deliver conservation impacts.

 / ©: 2011 SustainAbility
Cover of 2011 SustainAbility Report by Patrin Watanatada and Heather Mak "Signed, Sealed... Delivered? Behind Certifications and Beyond Labels"
© 2011 SustainAbility

Signed, Sealed… Delivered?
Behind Certification and Beyond Labels

by Patrin Watanatada and Heather Mak of SustainAbility

This 2011 SustainAbility report "explores the value and challenges that businesses find in using certification and labeling as tools to improve economic, environmental and social outcomes across global value chains".


Identifying areas of outstanding importance:

 / ©: / Anup Shah / WWF
Forest High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA) stand out because of their high environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values. Looking at a forest through a HCVA prism allows WWF and our stakeholders to decide which parts of a forest must be given higher priority for protection than others.

Find out more about Forest High Conservation Value Areas.

How can palm oil be more sustainable?

Recent developments:

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC): The Aquaculture Stewardship Council, which focuses on promoting more responsibly farmed seafood, recently celebrated the launch of the first ASC Certified tilapia, which entered the market in August, 2012. Certified Pangasius is expected to reach the market soon.

Five Aquaculture Dialogues standards are finalised and have been handed over to ASC: salmon, tilapia, bivalves, pangasius and abalone. Global standards for trout, seriola and cobia and shrimp are in their final stages of development. Both completed and upcoming standards focus on reducing the environmental and social impact of each farmed seafood.

Find out how responsible fish farming ensures production into the future.

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI): The BCI, launched in 2005, encourages the adoption of better management practices in cotton cultivation to achieve measurable reductions in key negative environmental impacts, while improving social and economic benefits for large- and small-scale cotton farmers around the world. After almost a decade of preparation, the Better Cotton Initiative reached a true milestone in October 2010, when the first ever bales of verified 'better cotton' were sold, followed by BCI Projects in India & West Africa implemented by WWF, Solidaridad and other local partners. In the 2011-12 season, over 120,000 farmers have been participating in BCI related projects. 4% of gobal cotton production is from the BCI (August, 2013).

Find out how cotton farmers increase their income by reducing use of water and chemicals.

Bonsucro (formerly The Better Sugarcane Initiative - BSI): The Bonsucro Standard is the first standard to measure the impact of the sustainable production of sugar cane. Bonsucro is a collaboration of sugar retailers, investors, traders, producers and NGOs that are committed to sustainable sugar production by establishing principles and criteria that are applied in the sugarcane growing regions of the world.

In June 2011, we welcomed the very first certified sustainable sugar and ethanol to the market. 130,000 tonnes of Bonsucro certified sugar and 63,000 cubic metres of certified ethanol were produced by a mill in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Today, 2.6% of global sugar cane production, and more than 16 mills are Bonsucro Certified (August 2013).

Read about a project in Queensland that is exploring ways to grow sugarcane more sustainably – and the benefit to the Great Barrier Reef.

Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB): Launched in March 2011, RSB standards define requirements for certification. Through collaboration between farmers, industries, NGOs and governments, the RSB certification system provides operators with assurance that their feedstock and fuels are guaranteed sustainable. The RSB is supported by over 125 member organizations based in over 40 countries, representing a diverse range of stakeholders. RSB services is the certification branch of the RSB and will oversee the certification of operators according to the RSB standards.

Estimates show that less that about 3% of biofuels produced globally are RSB, RSPO, RTRS or Bonsucro certified (August 2013).

Read how WWF fights destructive projects and helps develop standards and incentives for better bioenergy production.

Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS): The RTRS, launched in 2006,  was created to help ensure that current soy production and further expansion of the crop will be done in an environmentally sound and socially responsible way, avoiding clearance of native forests and high conservation value areas. The RTRS currently counts more than 150 members from 22 countries from various backgrounds. During its field testing period in 2010, 250,000 hectares of RTRS soy were produced. 
In June 2011, a coalition of the Dutch food and feed industry bought the first batch of RTRS soy for 85.000 tons of soy meal and Unilever Brazil bought the first certificates of 5.000 tons of soy oil. Less than 1% of global soy production is RTRS Certified (August 2013).

Read about how WWF uses RTRS standards to achieve its conservation goals working across soybean trade flows and supply chains.

International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF): The ISSF, founded in 2008,  is neither a certification scheme nor an eco-label. It works towards the long-term conservation of tuna stocks, reduces bycatch and promotes healthy ecosystems by improving the performance of regional fishery management organizations and tuna fishing fleets. The ISSF advocates for effective regional management structures and better management practices, and that tuna fisheries move toward Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. Companies that participate in the ISSF trace tuna along its supply chain, from ocean to shelf, to ensure that tuna is caught sustainably. Founding companies of the ISFF represent 50% of the global market for canned tuna.

Currently about 12.65% of tuna produced globally is MSC certified (August 2013).

Find out how companies can lobby Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) for better management practices in tuna production.

Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) The AWS, formed in 2009, works with engaged stakeholders from around the world and is developing a global water stewardship program and a permanent organization to house this initiative. At the heart of the program is the development of an International Water Stewardship Standard based on critical aspects of water stewardship such as managing flow, water quality, habitats and ensuring good governance. The Standard aims to recognize and reward water users and managers who take significant steps to minimize their water use and impacts. When operational, the AWS program will provide a powerful new voluntary incentive to companies and water service providers to improve the way water is managed around the world through a rigorous yet realistic Water Stewardship Standard. The first Draft International Water Stewardship Standard will be launched at this year’s 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France.

Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB):
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef was officially launched as an indenpendent organization on 21-22 February, 2012 in Dallas, Texas, USA. The GRSB has been in development since October 2010, when approximately 300 stakeholders met to address the environmental, economic and social impacts of beef production. WWF and other stakeholders of the beef value chain worked  together to develop the GRSB which builds upon existing national and regional initiatives in the US, Brazil and Australia among others. The goal of this Roundtable is to develop and promote greater adoption of sustainable beef practices that lead to science-based, measurable outcomes through a global multi-stakeholder initiative.

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