Plentiful forest, happy people? The EU's FLEGT approach and its impact on human rights and private forestry sustainability schemes

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Focusing on potential impact on social sustainability in timber exporting or processing states outside the EU, this article discusses the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) scheme and its regulatory implementation modalities. Drawing on Vietnam as a case study and the private Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) criteria as an example of a broader sustainability scheme, in the analysis we identify concerns of a human rights or labour rights character that risk becoming institutionalised in an adverse fashion as a result of the FLEGT’s scheme’s legality orientation with regard to exporting states as well as importers who place timber on the EU market, and the assumption that civil society involvement in exporting states will sufficiently
ensure consideration of such concerns. Next we consider potential adverse impact on the usage of broader sustainability schemes, such as FSC, which address social sustainability as well as the environment but do not (yet) deliver legality verification required by the EU Timber Regulation from March 2013. We also discuss possible contributions that could follow from adding a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) perspective to the FLEGT approach, given increasing public regulation. We conclude that although the FLEGT scheme seeks to achieve commendable objectives, it could do more to address human rights related to forestry usage, harvest and timber processing through the combined force of law and the market on which the scheme builds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordisk Miljörättslig Tidskrift/Nordic Environmental Law Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)52-82
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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