Procuring fair and sustainable timber
Public authorities purchase wood through tenders for building and civil construction, office and outdoor furniture, flooring, office paper and packaging. The public sector accounts for 15 percent of the timber and paper sold in Europe. This represents significant amount of purchasing power on the market.
An increasing number of European public authorities have understood the environmental and social impacts that their consumption practices can have on forests and those who depend on them. Many national governments and individual authorities have adopted sustainable timber procurement policies.
However, the extent to which these policies address social issues differs considerably from country to country. Few policies address fair trade related issues such as ensuring a fair price for producers. Many public authorities do however purchase fair trade products in other sectors - notably food and drink.
EU procurement legislation offers scope for taking account of environmental and social considerations (‘horizontal objectives’), provided they are to the product being purchased and are proportionate to its requirements and as long as the principles of value for money and equal access for all EU suppliers are observed.
There remains a degree of uncertainty regarding where and how social criteria, including fair trade criteria may be included within public procurement procedures, with a number of different approaches identifiable.
Sustainable Timber Action aims to provide some legal clarity, and present approaches to addressing both sustainable forest management and fair trade aspects in procurement.