Well before the Johannesburg Summit, Tony Blair (who was the first head of government to declare his intention to attend the Summit), invited business leaders and environmental organisations in the UK to work with government to develop sustainability strategies in five key sectors – finance, tourism, water, energy and forestry.
In preparation for the Summit, the UK government and the devolved administrations worked closely with leaders from forestry businesses and environmental organisations as a Forest Partnership for Action. Their aim was to develop actions for promoting sustainable development in the forestry sector, both in the UK and overseas.
The UK Forest Partnership launched a publication describing its work (download pdf)
and committing the partners to continue to work together. This was presented by Michael Meacher on behalf of the partnership at the Summit at an event which gave delegates the opportunity to share the UK's experience of promoting sustainable development in the forestry sector. The initiative stimulated a wide-ranging discussion covering sustainable forestry issues around the world as well as the value of government, business and civil society working in partnership.
The Partnership identifies four priority areas for action: Forest Certification; Illegal Logging; Timber Procurement; and Forest Restoration and Protection. The Forest Industries Development Council is preparing a sustainability strategy for the forest sector.
The partnership was well received in Johannesburg and, despite our tiny forest area, earned the UK a place among leaders in forestry policy. We hope that other countries will find our approach an example worth following.