Frequently Asked Questions about the Environmental Paper Network’s Global Paper Vision

What is the Environmental Paper Network (EPN)?

The EPN is a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) around the world that are invested in the responsible production and use of paper. It has steering groups of representatives of these organisations in North America, China and the rest of the world. The aim of the EPN is to communicate a vision that all of those involved endorse in order to  present a shared ‘ask’ from a broad section of civil society to the pulp and paper industry, paper buyers, investors and governments.

How was the vision prepared?

The development of the vision has been a participatory process, involving input from a wide range of organisations with different interests, through responses to a draft which was based on earlier visions of the North American and European EPNs. The final version was agreed upon by the steering groups of the three regions. 

What does the Vision contain?

The vision statement begins with a proclamation of our long-term vision, then it sets out  goals and sub-goals that the paper industry needs to achieve in order to become socially and environmentally sustainable. The vision statement concludes with a commitment by signatories to work together towards the vision.

How does the Global Paper Vision differ from earlier visions?

In 2003, a group of North American NGOs wrote a Common Vision for Transforming the North American Paper Industry. In 2005, European NGOs wrote a Common Vision for Transforming the European Paper Industry. These were regionally focused, and the European vision added a social dimension to the environmentally-focused North American document. 

The new Global Paper Vision draws together and builds on the strengths of these previous visions and supersedes them in the following ways:

  • It is intended to be applicable everywhere on earth, rather than being regionally focused.
  • The vision contains no preamble, in recognition that the context and placement of the vision is likely to be different for each signatory organisation.
  • Its intended audience has been extended to include investors and governments, as well as paper manufacturers and buyers.
  • There are two new goals – one about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and one about transparency and integrity.
  • There are also various additions and improvements to several points to address specific issues including alternative fibres and producer responsibility.
What will happen next?

Writing, agreeing and endorsing the Vision is the first phase of an ongoing process. The Vision continues to be circulated amongst NGOs for signatories and anyone seeking to endorse the Vision should use the online form or contact us.

The Global Paper Vision was launched in June 2014, and future events have drawn attention to the vision by addressing it to specific key audiences, including paper buyers, manufacturers, investors, governments, students and funders. This first communication phase is now followed by strategic work to bring the vision about. We do not envisage that this will involve a single joint campaign between the signatories, rather we will work side-by-side, co-ordinating where appropriate, making the most of our diverse interests, approaches and local focus. We believe our diversity is our strength.

This work involves persuading industry to adopt the vision and make concrete progress towards it with policies, time-bound plans and firm commitment to the goals. It also involves looking out, beyond the countries where the signatory organisations are based, to connect with civil society elsewhere on the planet who are impacted by our paper footprint.

What do these terms in the Vision mean?

Alternative Crops:  These include agricultural residues, such as straw or agricultural crops such as hemp, which some advocates suggest could be grown for fibre production for paper. For more details see: http://canopyplanet.org/solutions/yimby/  

Association: The totality of legal entities to which an associated organisation is affiliated in a corporate relationship in which either party controls the performance of the other (e.g. parent or sister company, subsidiary, joint venture, etc.)

Control: The power to direct, restrict, regulate, govern, or administer the performance of a legal entity through authority, rights, contract, or other means including but not limited to, shareholding, commercial relationships, financial links and managerial or board relationships, and/or familial relationships, among others. It shall be deemed to exist – unless it is determined to not exist based on evidence to the contrary – in corporate relationships that include, but are not limited to, an organisation owning more than 50 per cent share interest in another legal entity, or an organisation owning the right to use all of the assets of another legal entity. (Note that this definition is taken from a more detailed definition made by the FSC).

Endangered Forests are forest areas around the world that require protection from industrial use if they are to maintain their ecological values. Identification, thresholds and protection of Endangered Forests are outlined in the discussion paper “Ecological Components of Endangered Forests.” This paper is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/research/endangered-forests-definition/ 

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
The FSC is a globally applicable, independently certified forest management standard. The FSC enables the forest industry and stakeholders to develop national or regional standards for forest management – consistent with the FSC’s overarching principles and criteria – that aim to provide assurance to consumers of timber and paper that the product has come from a forest independently certified as responsibly-managed.

The ‘independent certification’ means that a certification organisation, accredited by the FSC to undertake the task, assesses the quality of forest management against the FSC standard. Forest management that meets or exceeds the requirements in the standard is considered ‘FSC certified’ and the products derived from FSC certified forests can carry an on-product logo. For further information on the FSC see their website (https://ic.fsc.org).

The FSC is the only forest management standard referred to in the Vision because it has attributes that set it apart from other standards. The FSC focuses on setting high standards of forest management, for example, the use of genetically modified organisms and conversion of natural forest to plantations are not permitted under the FSC system, and the FSC also seeks the identification and maintenance of high conservation value forests within the forest network. Furthermore, the FSC system encourages the participation of a diverse range of interest in the setting of forest management standards, and requires stakeholder consultation in certification processes, allowing stakeholders such as local communities, unions, indigenous peoples and environmental organisations a say in how forests are managed. Other forest certification schemes lack some or all of these attributes, and therefore were not included in the vision statement.

The FSC principles and criteria continue to be refined and reviewed to ensure their effectiveness in achieving sustainable and ethical stewardship. It should be noted that the FSC is not a panacea, and indeed there exist controversial and criticised instances of FSC certification, particularly of roadless forest areas, plantations and areas where there are unresolved indigenous peoples rights or land rights claims. The FSC is currently engaged in a major international review of the certification of plantations, the results of which are expected to be highly relevant to the paper industry.

Alternative forest certification systems that we do not recommend or support include PEFC, SFI, MTTC, CSA, CERTFOR, CERFLOR.

Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
See the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the ‘Ruggie Report’ to the UN on Business and Human Rights, FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, Forest Peoples Programme Guiding Principles  and BSR’s Engaging with FPIC.

 

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Biological organisms which have been altered by various means to consist of genetic structural changes (FSC Principle and Criteria, Feb 2000) or species that have been genetically altered using recombinant DNA (rDNA) techniques. We oppose the use of any GMOs used in paper production processes, for fibre or for any other substances such as starch or dyes.

High Conservation Value Ecosystems are the non-forest ecosystems that parallel High Conservation Value Forests. These ecosystems (i.e., “the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an ecological unit”), whether they are grasslands, tundra, wetlands or other ecosystems, deserve the same equal protection as  HCVF. High Conservation Value Areas, as defined by the High Conservation Value Resource Network, are:

  1. Ecosystems containing concentrations of biological diversity including endemic species, and rare, threatened or endangered species, that are significant at global, regional or national levels.
  2. Ecosystems containing large landscape-level ecosystems and ecosystem mosaics that are significant at global, regional or national levels and that contain viable populations of the great majority of the naturally occurring species in natural patterns of distribution and abundance.
  3. Ecosystems containing rare, threatened, or endangered ecosystems, habitats or refugia.
  4. Ecosystems which provide basic ecosystem services in critical situations, including protection of water catchments and control of erosion of vulnerable soils and slopes.
  5. Ecosystems containing sites and resources fundamental for satisfying the basic necessities of local communities or indigenous peoples (for livelihoods, health, nutrition, water, etc…), identified through engagement with these communities or indigenous peoples.
  6. Ecosystems containing sites, resources, habitats and landscapes of global or national cultural or archaeological or historical significance, and/or of critical cultural, ecological, economic or religions/sacred importance for the traditional cultures of local communities or indigenous peoples, identified through engagement with these local communities or indigenous peoples.

High Conservation Value Forests, as defined by the High Conservation Value Resource Network are:
Forests containing concentrations of biological diversity including endemic species, and rare, threatened or endangered species, that are significant at global, regional or national levels.

  1. Forests containing large landscape-level ecosystems and ecosystem mosaics that are significant at global, regional or national levels and that contain viable populations of the great majority of the naturally occurring species in natural patterns of distribution and abundance.
  2. Forests containing rare, threatened, or endangered ecosystems, habitats or refugia.
  3. Forests which provide basic ecosystem services in critical situations, including protection of water catchments and control of erosion of vulnerable soils and slopes.
  4. Forests containing sites and resources fundamental for satisfying the basic necessities of local communities or indigenous peoples (for livelihoods, health, nutrition, water, etc…), identified through engagement with these communities or indigenous peoples.
  5. Forests containing sites, resources, habitats and landscapes of global or national cultural or archaeological or historical significance, and/or of critical cultural, ecological, economic or religions/sacred importance for the traditional cultures of local communities or indigenous peoples, identified through engagement with these local communities or indigenous peoples.

Human Rights, Labour Rights, Indigenous Rights and Customary Community Land Use Rights: See ILO Fundamental Work Rights: freedom of association, the right to organise and to collective bargaining; the abolition of forced labour, the elimination of child labour; and the prohibition of discrimination in employment and occupation (equality of opportunity and treatment), ILO Convention 169 for the Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, General Declaration of Human Rights (1948), UN Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966), International Agreement on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), International Agreement on Civil and Political Rights (1966), UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Natural Forests are those in which non-planted native species predominate, although in the European context it is important to recognise that interventions over the long-term may have led to significant modifications to these habitats, in which case native forest or semi-natural woodland may be more appropriate terms.

Post-Consumer Recycled Products:  Recycled material that was collected after the material has reached its intended end use.  It does not include waste streams from manufacturing processes or unsold publications.

Social Responsibility
In addition to the goals stated in the vision document, social responsibility in the paper industry should be interpreted as requiring an end to the use of wood fibre that threatens the livelihood of local people, causes social problems associated with wood sourcing, or contributes to local poverty or loss of employment by eliminating other more sustainable uses of forests or land.

It should be noted that the goal to ‘reverse the trend towards ever-larger industrial units’ should be achieved with the use of pollution-reducing technologies, and though we recognise that in some cases historically small highly-polluting mills have been replaced by larger cleaner mills, we are seeking a win-win of increased economic diversity combined with reduced pollution.

How can I contribute or find out more?

Please contact us to find out more about the EPN.