The FSC City Initiative was officially launched by Andre de Freitas, FSC Director General, in a session at the Rio+20 Global Town Hall, co-organized with ISEAL. The Initiative is a ground-breaking project that will invite cities, towns and villages around the world to commit to responsible forest management and the sustainable public procurement of timber and forest products, and spread a strong message of sustainability to their communities.

During the launch of the Initiative, de Freitas said “FSC is committed to helping cities make sustainable procurement decisions and believes that this project can make a concrete, positive difference.”

FSC works to improve forest management worldwide, and through certification creates an incentive for forest owners and managers to follow best social and environmental practices. FSC certification provides a connection between the forest and the end user, ensuring that products with the FSC label uphold principles and criteria which bring the highest social and environmental benefits. When forest operations meet FSC requirements, the materials and products carry the FSC label and provide businesses and consumers with a powerful tool to influence how forests worldwide are managed.

Javier Corcuera, president of the Environmental Protection Agency of the City of Buenos Aires, announced the city’s intent to become the first FSC City. Corcuera explained how Buenos Aires has been improving its environmental practices. In 2010 the city adopted a procurement law that lays down a preference for certified timber and timber products. Buenos Aires has a city sustainability policy which goes beyond its procurement policy. A recent law prohibits plastic bags and promotes the replacement of 580 million bags per year by certified paper bags.

Corcuera provided practical examples of how FSC in particular can contribute to the city’s goal to ensure the environmental sustainability of the entire production chain. As an example, in 2011 all the wood used to renovate the Colón Theater - the most prestigious opera theater in Latin America - was fully FSC certified.

Corcuera also highlighted the importance of finding new opportunities to raise awareness and enthusiasm about the benefits of FSC certification. He stressed the high credibility of FSC as a multi-stakeholder, chamber-balanced organization in which voices from the North and South, and from large and small organizations, come together to find solutions and promote responsible forest management.

FSC and Buenos Aires will sign a memorandum of understanding before the end of 2012 clarifying the exact commitments that define Buenos Aires as an FSC City. FSC expects to engage four more cities in Europe and Latin America by the end of 2012.