By Dayna Reggero
Collaboration is a beautiful and powerful thing. Today, an international network of more than 120 organizations on six continents is unveiling a new Global Paper Vision that unites the myriad of voices currently challenging the paper industry to adopt more sustainable practices. This Vision is remarkable in its alignment of such diverse and influential organizations from around the world focused on a common goal.
“The Global Paper Vision articulates and focuses our aspirations as a social and environmental movement with millions of members around the world,” says Joshua Martin, Director of the Environmental Paper Network. “This network is a powerful movement for change because it is global, it has a clear vision and it has momentum that is bringing solutions to scale.”
In 2002, an uncommon collection of change-makers converged to combine their diverse expertise, explore their common ground and identify the solutions they could rally around. They eventually coalesced as the Environmental Paper Network and aligned around a common vision for transforming the pulp and paper industry. The advocacy, education, partnerships and campaigns of these organizations created a cascade of consumer support and a critical mass of large-volume purchasers developing voluntary policies. Companies from Staples to Office Depot, from Scholastic to Sprint, from HP to Disney, and hundreds more, have responded to the elevated environmental expectations of consumers.
Martin says: “With new opportunities and new expectations from the marketplace, collaborations between conservation groups and pulp and paper producers developed to find on-the-ground solutions.
“Multi-stakeholder, landscape level agreements were forged such as the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement and the Boreal Forest Conservation Agreement, and work continues to fully implement them. Former adversaries came together to act as partners such as Greenpeace/Kimberly-Clark and the Dogwood Alliance with Georgia-Pacific and International Paper on forest conservation in the U.S. Southeast.”
The new Vision addresses climate change, human rights and new expectations for corporate transparency. The Vision identifies seven common goals among the organizations that are key objectives for change: reducing consumption; maximizing recycled content; ensuring social responsibility; sourcing fiber responsibly; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; ensuring clean production; and ensuring transparency.
“Paper use has social, environmental, and human rights implications and this vision points at ways to improve them all,” adds Saskia Ozinga of FERN in the United Kingdom.
Collectively the signatories commit to developing collaboration and dialogue between NGOs, industry and other institutions; encouraging governments to develop legislative, fiscal and operational measures consistent with the vision; encouraging only responsible investment in the industry; articulating and implementing responsible procurement and purchasing guidance; monitoring the progress of all stakeholders towards the Vision; and campaigning to end socially and environmentally damaging activities by the pulp and paper industry.
Darby Hoover of the Natural Resources Defense Council in the United States adds, “By following the guidance of the Global Paper Vision, paper users can drive the market toward better paper products, which helps to reduce global warming pollution, save forests, conserve water and energy, and divert usable materials from incinerators and landfills.”
The Environmental Paper Network will serve as a hub to facilitate collaboration and dialogue, identify and implement collective actions, host shared resources and monitor progress towards the Vision.
Read the complete Global Paper Vision and a list of signatories: www.environmentalpaper.org/Vision.
The Environmental Paper Network is an international collaborative project of more than 120 organizations working for social and environmental transformation in the production and consumption of pulp and paper. Regional network leadership is provided by committees in North America (environmentalpaper.org), Europe (environmentalpaper.eu) and China (environmentalpaper.cn).