/ ©: Ikea

Partnership for Change

A 10-year partnership between WWF and IKEA has led to transformational changes – from timber to cotton, to carbon and now looking into their customer’s home.
In the Swedish city of Kalmar, a group of families is trying out ways to reduce waste and energy bills around the house. In Pakistan, thousands of cotton farmers have reduced the water and chemicals they use to grow their crops. In Romania, nearly a million hectares of state forest have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council – a concept that, just 10 years ago, was virtually unheard of.

Linking them is a long-running partnership between WWF and IKEA. Over the course of 10 years, joint projects have led to changes across the spectrum – from transforming practices in regions where suppliers are based to inspiring customers to reduce their own environmental impact. The partnership focuses on the two commodities IKEA uses most, timber and cotton (see page 10 and 6 repectively), along with climate change.

Responsible forestry

The partnership began in 2002 out of a shared desire to increase the volume of wood available from well-managed forests. “We had committed ourselves to sourcing all our wood from responsible sources,” says Anders Hildeman, IKEA’s Global Forestry Manager.

“But in the markets where we operate, there simply wasn’t enough certified wood available.”

IKEA sources much of its timber from Eastern Europe. It began working with WWF on a project to promote responsible forest management in Romania, which has since expanded into 11 different countries in Eastern Europe and South Asia. At the time, the idea that forest management should include environmental and social aspects was unfamiliar in the region. There was little market demand for FSC-certified wood, logging practices took little consideration for threatened species and local communities, and there was a thriving grey market in timber of unknown origin.

The partnership has provided information, training, tools and technical assistance to help forestry staff work toward certification.

It has also engaged with IKEA suppliers and other businesses to build demand for FSCcertified wood, and lobbied government to provide supportive legislation for responsible forest management. Over 700,000 hectares of forest in Romania and more than 200,000 hectares in Bulgaria are now FSC certified, and responsible forestry practices are in operation across a much larger area. A new timber-tracking system has made it extremely difficult for wood that is not legally harvested to enter the market. A toolkit for mapping high conservation value forests has been developed and more than 100,000 hectares of high conservation value forests have been identified in the region, including some of Europe’s last old-growth forests.

Anders believes that, by working together, IKEA and WWF have been able to achieve far more than either could alone: “WWF has the networks, competence and credibility.

This combined with our in-house forestry knowledge and ability to create the market pull is what motivates suppliers to go in this direction,” he says. The partnership now works on forest projects in 11 countries, where it has helped trigger a widespread shift to responsible forest management. “In the last few years, we’ve more than tripled the share of FSC-certified wood we use, even as the business has grown,” says Anders.

From suppliers to customers

Building on its success with motivating suppliers, the partnership has now begun looking in the other direction – toward the customers. WWF and IKEA have recently begun exploring ways to enable and inspire IKEA’s customers to live more sustainable lives.

A joint project, currently at the pilot stage, is working with nine families in Sweden and IKEA co-workers in China to look at ways people can reduce their ecological footprint at home – from how the way they store food can reduce the amount they waste, to how they can use their furnishings to improve insulation.

“Some families have already reduced nonrecyclable waste by 50 to 70 per cent, and have also substantially reduced their food waste,” says project leader Ann-Sofie Gunnarsson. “It doesn’t need complicated, expensive or super-technological solutions – we can change a lot with simple things together with changed behaviour.”

With more than 600 million IKEA customers worldwide, the cumulative effect of these simple things could be huge.

Better Production for a Living Planet

 / ©: WWF
Download the full story here. 

“IKEA wants to make a positive difference and that is why we are working hard to help millions of people to live a more sustainable life at home, secure more renewable energy and protect raw materials. While we have made great progress, together with our suppliers, customers and expert partners like WWF, I know we can do even more.”

Steve Howard - Chief Sustainability Officer - IKEA Group

Ikea Progress

Certified timber in IKEA range
16.2% share of FSC-certified wood in the IKEA range.

Better cotton in IKEA textiles

23.8% share of Better Cotton in IKEA’s overall cotton use.

Energy efficiency
51% of the electricity needed to run all IKEA buildings comes from renewable energy sources.

Ikea Targets for 2015

90% of IKEA’s sales value will come from home furnishing products classified as ‘more sustainable’.

100% renewable, recyclable or recycled materials in home furnishing products.

50% improved efficiency of energy and water consuming products (compared to 2008 market average).

WWF-Ikea Conservation Partnership

WWF and IKEA started working together in 2002, focusing on advancing responsible forest management. Timber is the key ingredient in IKEA’s furniture. The partnership then expanded to include cotton – another key ingredient in IKEA’s products. The third pillar of the partnership is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently WWF and IKEA are running field projects focused on three main areas:

1. Responsible forest management
  • combat illegal logging;
  • support forest certification;
  • promote responsible timber trade;
  • map and protect High Conservation Value Forests;
  • support responsible forest management.

2. Better cotton production
  • reduce use of water, pesticides and fertilizers;
  • increase farmers’ gross margins;
  • help farmers produce Better Cotton.

3. Adressing climate change
  • find market transformation opportunities to provide low carbon solutions;
  • search solutions that can contribute to reduce GHG emissions in society;
  • engage stakeholders through the value chain.
  •  / ©: Ikea
    The partnership between WWF and IKEA is one example of a number of long-term global partnerships between WWF and the private sector to help achieve conservation objectives.

Ikea Countries

  • Better cotton production
    India, Pakistan, China, Turkey.

    Certified timber production (FSC)
    Eastern Europe, Russia, China.

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