August marked one year since the Finnish Forest Industries Federation became the first trade association in Finland to be accepted as a member of the UN Global Compact Network Finland. Founded by the UN in 2000, the UN Global Compact is the largest global initiative in the world promoting corporate sustainability for businesses and other organisations. The voluntary initiative offers its members a sustainability framework, the principles and goals of which are known all over the world.

Finnish forest industry companies have played an active role both in establishing the Finnish Global Compact network and in the international Global Compact work. Therefore, it was only natural for the Finnish Forest Industries Federation to also join the network.

Today, on 25 September, we fly our flag to celebrate the eighth anniversary of the 193 Member States of the UN forming an agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030. Our flag also represents our commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Finnish Forest Industries Federation finds the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals crucially important and believes that the forest industry plays a significant role in their implementation.

Versatile sustainability work in the forest industry

For years, we, the Finnish forest industry have carried out ambitious, goal-oriented sustainability efforts. Our independent sustainability commitments, focusing on the goals of sustainable development, were published in 2012. They were subsequently expanded in 2018 to cover not only environmental sustainability but also areas of social and economic sustainability and responsibility in more detail. The goals were also made more ambitious. According to our two progress reports concerning the sustainability commitments (2020 and 2022), the implementation of the commitments is showing great progress.

We also released our climate roadmap in 2020. It reflects the Finnish forest industry's proportionally larger role in Finland’s attempts to reach the carbon neutrality goal of 2035. While the forest industry works to minimise its own climate emissions as much as possible, its products increasingly replace those made of fossil-based resources. In addition to ecological responsibility, the Finnish forest industry carries a heavy economical and social responsibility in terms of tax revenues and jobs.

The most recent addition to the sustainability efforts of the Finnish forest industry is the biodiversity roadmap of the wood processing industry, published on 12 September 2023. The roadmap surveys conducted in cooperation with Finnish Sawmills Association show that the state of biodiversity in Finnish forests has improved by many key indicators, and the positive trend continues. The new roadmap encourages more extensive implementation of biodiversity measures and emphasises the importance of measurements and the dissemination of information.

Constant development secured by wide-ranging cooperation

Despite the developments and achievements mentioned above, there is no reason to get overly boastful as the only thing certain in life is uncertainty. I’m sure there is no need to repeat the events of the past three years, let alone the current state of the economy that ensued. All of this, unfortunately, is reflected in the forest industry as well. However, we should not wallow in our present issues; what is more important is to keep our eyes fixed on a sustainable future. Business activities built on a sustainable, responsible foundation are the best solution for balancing external uncertainty.

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation strongly believes that we can continue acting as pioneers in all the areas of sustainability and responsibility; ecological, social and economical. There are no other alternatives. That is ensured by the constantly reforming EU legislation in all aspects of sustainability and responsibility as well as the demands of both consumers and, increasingly, investors. To guarantee continuous development, we need wide-ranging cooperation. A great example of this and the perfect platform for such objectives is the Global Compact Network Finland. Shared insight and vision is needed in politics, business, civil society and among citizens.

Finally, it is my pleasure to note that the attitudes and views of Finns fully support cooperative efforts. According to a recent survey, Finns see the forest industry as an important employer, promoter of exports, taxpayer and builder of Finnish well-being. What is particularly great news is that the views on the sustainability of the forest industry and its way of managing forests and their biodiversity have become increasingly positive. This means that our hard work is paying off.