Reports & Analysis
New Report on Forest Related Trade Opportunities in a Green Economy
The new UNEP publication “Green Economy and Trade” highlights that trade in sustainable forestry products can be an important driver in the transition to a greener economy.
“Green Economy and Trade” which includes a specific chapter on forests highlights the trends, challenges and opportunities presented to the forests sector by a transition to a green economy. It also examines increased pressures on declining forest resources and ways in which to avert or stop illegal logging and forest degradation.
The chapter illustrates how trade in sustainable forest goods and services is increasingly influenced by national policies, international processes and voluntary procurement practices, e.g., zero deforestation supply chains, which in turn are creating market opportunities for producers and traders.
These trade prospects include growing export opportunities for certified wood and wood-based products, non-timber forest products (NTFP), agroforestry commodities and deforestation-free products. Beyond carbon, a green economy also presents opportunities for increased trade in ecosystem services, e.g., REDD+ and water, as the flow and contributions to various value-chains are increasingly understood as input factors and included in risk management decision-making.
For these trade opportunities to materialize many challenges need to be overcome and enabling conditions should be planned alongside national development and REDD+ frameworks. On the other hand, green economy trade may be a tangible way to respond to the message from climate change negotiations that “social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries”.
Nevertheless, attracting finance and meeting standards in export markets still remain difficult for producers and economic operators in developing countries. The cost and know-how needed for achieving compliance with certification requirements can act as a barrier for more sustainable trade. In addition, sustainable forest management depends heavily upon capital investments and R&D, which in turn rely also on the availability of skilled human resources. Reducing trade barriers for NTFP and deforestation-free commodities would also encourage more sustainable trade, as would enhanced cooperation through value chains, from primary producer to end consumer.
Currently, sustainable forest products occupy a small share of the global market as it is often difficult to differentiate between products that are produced in a sustainable manner from un-sustainable operations, which is also one of the drivers of deforestation. Conversely, this is likely to change gradually with increasing transparency in the forest sector as a result of technological advancements and REDD+ investments.