Decision due to reputational risks for FSC linked to stakeholder
disputes in the Democratic Republic of Congo
BONN, Germany, May 21, 2013 /CNW/ - The International Board of Directors
of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has decided, reluctantly, but
firmly, to disassociate from the Danzer Group, of forest product
companies, after in-depth research by an impartial Complaints Panel
concluded that the former Danzer subsidiary SIFORCO had been involved
in unacceptable activities, as specified in FSC's Policy for
Association, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2011, while
it was still part of the Danzer Group. "Disassociation", the
termination of all contractual relationships with a company, is the
most severe sanction that FSC can impose.
"Based on the unanimous recommendation of the Complaints Panel, which
spent several months analyzing the case, and whose work was also
reviewed by a Board Complaints Resolution Committee, the Board of
Directors decided that Danzer was in violation of FSC's Policy for
Association," said Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC. " Our
continued association with the Danzer Group clearly puts FSC's
credibility and reputation at risk," he added.
The disassociation results from a formal complaint filed by Greenpeace,
that SIFORCO was involved in the violation of human rights of forest
communities. The alleged events occurred in 2011 in and around the
community of Yalisika in the DRC. The Danzer Group and Greenpeace both
agreed on the experts who comprised the Complaints Panel.
While the Danzer Group disagrees with the Complaints Panel's conclusion
on its responsibility for what happened at Yalisika, it has chosen to
accept the disassociation, and has confirmed its commitment towards
resolving the specific issues at Yalisika and to develop robust new
conflict avoidance and con-flict resolution procedures before applying
for re-association with FSC. "We respect the right of FSC to impose
disassociation under conditions that could represent severe
reputational risk to its system," noted Danzer Group CEO Hans-Joachim
Danzer. "Though this imposes substantial financial conse-quences on our
company, we believe in the principles for responsible forest management
defined by FSC and will seek re-association as quickly as possible
after our fulfillment of the conditions for re-association has been
verified by an independent third-party monitor approved by FSC", he
The disassociation may be temporary, but the FSC Board of Directors must
approve a re-association. It can be reviewed when independent
verification finds that Danzer has met the following conditions:
That the Danzer Group has performed fully on the obligations the company
promised to the people at Yalisika, which may include the construction
of a school and health center, and construction of a road. The precise
nature of the requirements will be determined by negotiations between
stakeholders in the community and Danzer, mediated by an independent
social development organization approved by the FSC Secretariat. Danzer
must cover all costs of the activities resulting from the mediation, as
well as the costs of the independent mediator.
That the Danzer Group has created and implemented new, robust conflict
avoidance and conflict-resolution procedures to prevent conflicts of
the sort that occurred in and around Yalisika, taking into account FSC
Guidance on Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
That the Danzer Group has had its progress toward these goals verified
by a third-party organization approved by the FSC Secretariat, and paid
for by Danzer.
The FSC Board further decided that SIFORCO, now owned by the Groupe
Blattner Elwyn, will not be granted a new Trademark Licensing
Agreement, effectively blocking FSC certification, until the Danzer
Group has performed fully on its obligations towards the Yalisika
community, and until independent monitoring verifies that SIFORCO is
not involved in illegal logging activities, as some have reported.
The Danzer Group is one of the largest producers of decorative veneer
worldwide and one of the top-ten producers of hardwood products in
North America. This decision also affects the largest FSC forest
management certificate in the Congo Basin, managed by Danzer subsidiary
Industrie Forestière de Ouesso (IFO).
A reaction from Greenpeace:
"Greenpeace is pleased FSC is showing that its Policy for Association
has teeth and is not risking its reputation by being associated with
the Danzer Group due to its involvement in human rights violations. We
find this landmark decision critical for the credibility of FSC." says
Judy Rodrigues, senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace International.
"We also caution against any quick re-association with the Danzer Group
until it has been independently verified as complying with the policy,
as well as fulfilling its social obligations to the affected
com-munities. This case clearly shows that FSC needs to urgently
establish safeguards in high risk areas where there are high levels of
corruption, and good governance, the rule of law, and organized civil
society are lacking."
For more information, including a public summary of the Complaints Panel
report and a series of Frequently Asked Questions about FSC's Policy
for Association, please visit: https://ic.fsc.org/siforco-democratic-republic-of-congo.355.htm.
Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent non-governmental
organization that promotes environmentally sound, socially beneficial,
and economically prosperous management of the world's forests. FSC was
created in 1993 to help consumers and businesses identify products from
well-managed forests. FSC sets standards by which forests are
certified, offering credible verification to people who are buying wood
and wood products. Currently more than 175 million hectares and 25,000
companies are certified to FSC standards worldwide. For more
information visit http://www.fsc.org.
SOURCE: Forest Stewardship Council
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