Governments, representatives of civil society and business organizations met in New York last December to discuss priority issues and the nature of the commitments that need to be worked on in the run up to Rio+20.

As reported in the last Market Newsletter (November 2011), FSC introduced the idea of a ‘pledge’ to support forest certification especially in tropical forests, to be confirmed by all governments at Rio.

Encouragingly, the pledge was strongly supported by environmental NGOs in the preparatory process and in their official group contribution at the December meeting, though more time and effort are needed to ensure it gets the required support at the conference.

The two main themes of the conference are to strengthen the UN institutional setup for sustainable development, and to move towards green economies in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Promoters of this concept focus on the innovation and economic growth potential of green economies, whereas critics highlight the doubtful social equity gains.

Few seem to concentrate on the essential requirement for green economies to work within ecological limits and not to undermine the resource base.

Biodiversity and sustainable forest management are not yet given the necessary attention, one argument being that other forums take care of these.

FSC believes this is a false argument. Sustainable resource management should be at the heart of a green economy agenda.

In January, the UN Bureau for Rio+20 published a zero-draft for the Rio+20 outcomes.

It included forests as a specific area of interest, which is a step forward.

However, forest certification is not highlighted as an effective tool, so in the coming months work must be done to make this happen.

But the prospects are hopeful.

Many countries are insisting that they want Rio+20 to show concrete examples of what works and what needs to be supported.

And FSC forest certification is certainly a good example, as underlined by the German delegation leader.

Although many doubt that the conference will make breakthroughs similar to those from the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago, some initiatives could receive a major boost.

One could be more credible and robust forest certification in the tropics, through both practical governmental assistance on the ground and targeted green public procurement support globally.

Besides involvement in the official preparatory process, FSC is also planning its own conference in Rio two days before Rio+20, on 18 June at the Windsor Plaza Hotel.

The theme is the role of certification in promoting a green economy, in particular in tropical forest countries.

For further information, contact: John Hontelez, FSC Chief Advocacy Officer, [url=http://j%2Ehontelez@fsc.org/]j.hontelez@fsc.org[/url]