Like many organizations around the world, FSC International held its very first virtual staff meeting a few days ago. The few who were present in the empty conference room greeted a faceless crowd, responding to voices echoing from the same black speaker perched on the table in the center. We are grateful for the advances in technology that make this kind of meeting possible. While we are privileged to be able to continue our work in a digital landscape, we share the feelings of incredulity at the jarring loss of normalcy, loss of connection, and loss of certainty.
Similarly, we have just held our first, virtual global board meeting, where the board members met from their homes instead of gathering in Argentina, which was the original plan.
Though we might be socially isolated at this moment, we are globally connected in our shared experiences and emotions during this pandemic. When we step out of our homes again, the world will be different in some ways. But we will be stepping into that new future together, and we will need citizens, businesses, civil society and governments to work together to weather the storm. It is only through a collaborative, global response that we will find the solutions to defeat this pandemic.
The forestry sector continues to provide an essential service in supplying citizens with necessities such as toilet paper, hygiene products and packaging materials. At the same time, this pandemic has heightened awareness around the dangers of deforestation and illegal wildlife trade. When forests are destroyed and when wild animals are traded, the interaction between humans and animals lead to an increased risk of the spread of zoonotic viruses. FSC is well-positioned as the best solution to meet the continuous demands for essential services while preventing deforestation and giving healthy forests a value other than illegal trade.
We will continue to support the stakeholders within our system with initiatives ranging from easing administrative burdens by using desk audits, to the launch of the FSC Indigenous Foundation which will support Indigenous communities across the globe.
We are allied within our strong membership network, representing leaders in different sectors who have since our inception used democratic processes to find joint solutions to global problems. This is exactly the kind of collaborative approach and unity the world needs right now. I strongly believe those of us who have worked in this cooperative way will be better equipped to overcome the challenges we currently face.
FSC remains committed to ensuring better outcomes for communities, markets and forests.
We wish you strength and safety.