A long-term partnership between WWF and IKEA is transforming the global market for cotton and timber.
WWF and IKEA work together in partnership on timber and cotton to increase the amount of FSC-certified wood available on the market, combat illegal timber trade, identify and protect ancient forests, and support more sustainable cotton production.
“We have chosen to partner with WWF to help us on our journey towards being People and Planet Positive”, says Simon Henzell-Thomas, Sustainability Policy Manager & Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Inter IKEA Group. “IKEA and WWF share objectives on the responsible and sustainable use of natural resources. WWF has deep expertise in the timber and cotton markets, both important raw materials for IKEA, which makes them a natural partner to help support and challenge us towards our ambitious sustainability goals.”
Healthy, well-managed forests are essential for a living planet. And responsible forest management is at the heart of the WWF and IKEA partnership. Through joint field projects and advocacy, the partnership is calling on a number of governments around the world to implement stronger legislation to combat illegal logging and illegal timber trade and support responsible forest management.
Responsible Forest Management
Together, through responsible forest management, IKEA and WWF want to ensure that high conservation values are maintained or enhanced in forests. Beginning with just five forest projects in seven countries in 2002, today, they are collaborating in 13 countries on a variety of projects which benefit both people and the environment.
IKEA has minimum requirements for all wood used in its products and collaborates with WWF and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to support responsible forest management. The long-term goal is that by 2020 all wood used in IKEA products is recycled or comes from forests that are responsibly managed (FSC-certified). In sensitive high-risk areas, requirements are higher and the aim is that these forests are certified by 2017.
“An FSC-certified forest means that forest managers follow rules for environmentally, socially and economically responsible forestry”, says Louise Carlsson, WWF and IKEA forest programme co-ordinator. “This includes identifying and excluding particularly valuable forests from logging. It also means taking into account the needs of local communities and the conservation of species that depend on the forest.”
IKEA and WWF are two of the founders of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and more sustainable cotton production is a priority for the partnership. BCI's goal is to improve global cotton production through encouraging better practices such as using less water and fewer chemicals, and improving the livelihoods and working conditions of cotton farmers.
More than 44,000 cotton farmers in India and Pakistan have significantly reduced their use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and water. Since 2015, all cotton used in IKEA’s product range has come from more sustainable sources.
“We are very proud to have reached our milestone of using 100 per cent cotton from more sustainable sources – but it’s only part of a much longer journey with an even bigger goal," says Simon Henzell-Thomas, Sustainability Policy Manager & Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Inter IKEA Group.
The partnership has delivered improved health and income levels for cotton farmers involved in joint WWF and IKEA projects, and reduced impacts on the environment. Co-operation with local authorities has also reduced child labour.
“Making cotton production more efficient and more profitable means more children go to school. Previously, many children had to work with their parents in the cotton fields to help their families make ends meet. Particularly important is the increase in the number of girls in schools”, says Marcus Albers, WWF partnership manager.