FSC Statement on Earthsight Report 2020

FSC / Iván Castro
FSC / Iván Castro
June 24, 2020

Earthsight – a non-profit organization dedicated to researching and investigating environmental and social injustice - recently published a report that shares the findings of its investigative work relating to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and the certification of certain entities in Ukraine and Romania.

FSC is fully aware of the difficult environment in Ukraine, where the country shows many of the problems typically prevalent in emerging economies. Issues such as corruption, law enforcement failures and social transformation difficulties are a substantial reason behind many forestry management problems in the country.

While FSC certification cannot replace government oversight and action against fraudulent activities, it can support such actions as shown by the termination of certificates from 29 organizations in Ukraine.

Whenever illicit acts by certificate holders are identified or reported, they are investigated, and if proven to be substantiated, the certificate is suspended or terminated. In extreme cases, the certificate holder is expelled completely from the FSC system.

To combat problems in the Ukrainian timber industry, FSC has adopted a holistic approach in which it implements a number of measures across three main areas of work:

1. The development and implementation of the Ukrainian Forest Stewardship Standard
2. Improving supply chain integrity
3. Engaging with key stakeholders in an open and transparent approach

In its most recent meeting in June 2020, FSC’s International Board of Directors agreed to adopt additional measures including normative changes proposed to provide FSC with additional options to act on supply chain integrity issues in Ukraine and other high-risk areas.

•    On conflict of interest:

Impartiality is one of the fundamental principles of any credible certification scheme and addressed in detail by relevant FSC requirements, which are largely adopted from the International Standardization Organization (ISO).  Additionally, the inherent conflict of interest of certification bodies getting paid by their clients (i.e. the certified companies) is not only addressed by this whole suite of requirements, it is also one of the focal areas for an accreditation body to assess. By using a single, internationally operating accreditation body, FSC is – other than certification schemes relying on national accreditation bodies – ensuring global consistency and able to address relevant weaknesses in international certification bodies’ management systems more holistically. 

Assurance Services International (ASI) has developed its own system to further lower the risk of partiality by conducting so-called compliance assessments allowing them to directly review a certificate holder’s conformity with certification requirements and thus the adequacy of the certification body’s previous assessment results.

FSC will continue working in partnership with state institutions, NGOs, social groups, local communities, and businesses to address the root of the problems threatening the Ukrainian forests and together provide fertile ground for long term positive change.

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Ukraine Earthsight FAQ
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