— By Amresh Deshpande, FSC India Country Manager
From 13-17 November, FSC Asia Pacific Regional Director Adam Beaumont visited India and spent an eventful week in New Delhi with the FSC India team. We represented FSC during multiple meetings, networking events and a panel discussion hosted by FSC at the India Sustainability Standards conference organized by the Centre for Responsible Business. Here are the key highlights from that week.
Our week began with a meeting with Certification Bodies (CBs) in India on Monday morning. CBs are significant partners for us on getting more interested organizations and businesses to get FSC certified through their training and auditing works. We discussed challenges, market opportunities, and way forward to increase engagement with one another. The first-ever meeting of FSC members from India was held in the same afternoon, with a diverse group of stakeholders from the Trade Union, political sphere and academia. We also got a lot of insight on how FSC India can strengthen its engagement with the members.
Tuesday was an interesting day – it was a daylong engagement with members of ISEAL Alliance in India. Vidya Rengan and Norma Tregurtha from ISEAL conducted sessions on Benefits and Impacts of sustainability standards in India. They also discussed case studies on the use of standards by the Government, and Report on Business Benefits of using sustainability standards. The sessions were attended by a diverse group of organizations- including Rainforest Alliance, RSPO and the Responsible Jewellery organization. FSC was certainly in good company!
Day 3 & 4
The inaugural day of the India Sustainability Standards Conference was filled with sessions, strategy discussions, and networking over lunch and coffee which allowed participants to discuss areas of mutual interest. FSC hosted a roundtable and panel discussion titled “Benefits Of FSC Standards In Managing Forest Resources” on the second day of the conference. This roundtable facilitated dialogue among state forest corporations, Indian companies, MNCs as well as small and medium enterprises and social and environmental NGOs to explore how sustainable use of forest resources could be achieved with the uptake of voluntary sustainability standards. It was gratifying and encouraging when speakers from ITC and Forest Corporation mentioned that they were able to charge a premium for FSC certified wood.
In addition to attending sessions on sustainability standards, FSC team also connected with the CBs and KPMG team who are helping in drafting FSC’s Nations Forestry Sustainability Standards for India. A deep dive with WWF- India on increased collaboration threw up some interesting opportunities. Most importantly, FSC India team received some amazing inputs that will help drive FSC’s strategy in the coming years.
Even though the days started early (with breakfast meets) and ended late (networking events and meeting over dinner), the week was full of energy! It was also encouraging to see a great level of interest in FSC among the participants. The discussions, brainstorming sessions and ideas need to be translated into action in the coming months, of course!