Letter sent from Kersti Strandqvist, Senior Vice President Group Sustainability, to Greenpeace Sweden, September 27, 2017.
Thank you for a constructive meeting and discussion today in Stockholm, when you provided us with a copy of your report ‘Wiping out the boreal’. Essity appreciates the dialogue with Greenpeace and acknowledges your important role in the global debate on biodiversity and protection of areas and species.
During the day, we have read the report, including the case studies you have conducted. As there are many details in the report, we will of course discuss it more in detail with our internal experts. At this early stage, we wish to make the following comments:
Essity is a strong supporter of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. We have, through national consultations and our memberships in various trade associations, worked actively in the process leading up to the establishment of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in 2010. We will continue to contribute to this work.
We recognize, as you do, that FSC certification must meet the challenge to maintain standards, as the system grows globally. Essity as a global company views credible certification as an important way to ensure these standards are applied globally. IFLs is a good example, where more work is required before it is fully integrated into the FSC system. We strongly believe the way to deliver credible and meaningful change is by working within the FSC system to drive global forestry protection and management.
We appreciate that Greenpeace have gone through and analyzed our fiber sourcing policy. We have taken note of your criticism in terms of how the policy is being implemented. Our fiber policy and implementation practices have repeatedly been scrutinized by other international organizations and institutes, such as WWF and CDP, and we have been praised for our strong commitments on biodiversity as well as our leadership in transparency for disclosing our production’s ecological footprint. We look forward to discussing this further with you.
Essity (formerly SCA Hygiene Company) is an active member of FSC International since decades and an active supporter of FSC's certification scheme. Being a member of FSC implies that we uphold and safeguard FSC's principles, including biodiversity, forest conservation and respect for indigenous people’s rights. By sourcing FSC-certified fiber, which is the case in Sweden, the fiber is guaranteed to originate from responsibly managed, productive forest areas. Our suppliers in Sweden and Finland all have fully FSC-certified or controlled production areas. Hence, these areas should not be part of any areas that national or local authorities have given formal protection, or have classified as such.
We welcome any debate that is aiming at improving FSC, in Scandinavia and other parts of the world such as Russia, where Greenpeace and Essity already are discussing an important case. We are happy to continue this dialogue within the organization, which we believe is the most relevant arena for discussions on how to make sure that FSC’s high standards can be maintained and further developed. We also would like to see Greenpeace take active part in that discussion in Scandinavia, perhaps by re-joining FSC in Sweden and Finland.
There seems to be a misunderstanding in the report concerning how Sweden’s Environmental Protection Agency and Forest Authority have identified High Value Forest Landscapes (HVFLs – ‘värdetrakter’). HVFLs are used as a theoretical model by the authorities and are not implemented in any legal or regulatory form in Sweden or elsewhere. Therefore, we believe the report´s conclusion that SCA and other Swedish forest owners, perform logging operations in “critical forest landscapes in the boreal forest region that have been identified for formal protection” by the Swedish authorities, is incorrect. The Government report Greenpeace refers to, contains proposals of generic areas derived from maps and not from inventory activities or documented observations on the ground. These may host forests of high biodiversity value, or species eligible for protection. The authorities themselves have confirmed that HVFLs have no formal connection with the legal framework and regulations that define areas which national or local authorities are obliged to put under formal protection. We advise Greenpeace to contact Sweden’s EPA and Mr. Claes Svedlindh, head of EPA’s Natural conservation department, at Claes.Svedlindh@Naturvardsverket.se to obtain more information on the role that HVFLs play in their work with forest policies. Mr. Svedlindh has confirmed to Essity that he is more than willing to answer any questions you might have regarding HVFLs and the purpose of including these maps in the Government report.
The protection of Sami livelihoods is a cornerstone of Sweden’s and Finland’s legislation regarding the rights of indigenous people. We believe that any violation of these rights amongst our suppliers would have come to our attention directly and we would like to understand more about Greenpeace’s information on this topic. In addition, we have seen no examples or reports stating that our suppliers have caused or been involved in any violation of EU’s framework for rare species (such as wolf, lynx and various bats), the Habitats directive, and would welcome any specific information that Greenpeace may have.
Essity would like to host a new meeting with Greenpeace at our headquarters in Stockholm, where we can discuss the report’s contents and conclusions. We suggest any of the following dates:
October 16, 17, 24, 25, 26
Senior Vice President Group Sustainability