Working for our members and wider stakeholders

Working for our members and wider stakeholders

Giving Indigenous Peoples a voice

Extending FSC’s commitment to indigenous communities

2020 saw the launch of the FSC Indigenous Foundation to give a voice to Indigenous Peoples on the continued management and preservation of the world’s forests.

The foundation, headquartered in Panama, is an indigenous-led independent global entity, part of the FSC family that represents an extension of FSC’s commitment to working with Indigenous Peoples worldwide. It is designed to develop creative and innovative solutions that support indigenous communities by enabling them to increase and maintain the benefits from their territories through sustainable forest management, certification, and respect for their rights.

To do this, the foundation has worked to adapt and apply an indigenous cultural landscapes approach, developed by FSC in 2016, to acknowledge the indigenous lands' social, cultural, and economic value, with other rights, forests, and market-based solutions by working with different sectors worldwide. With this effort, the foundation works with FSC to create sustainable market linkages between local communities and the private sector through the FSC certification system by incorporating their cultural identity and traditional knowledge, and practices of managing their lands, water, fauna, and flora into indigenous value-chains.

The FSC Indigenous Foundation is headed by Francisco Souza, who is an Indigenous Person himself, with decades of experience working with environmental and indigenous organizations, particularly in Latin America. The results of the initiatives and projects carried out by the foundation will strengthen the mission and long-term objectives of FSC to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.

Other 2020 highlights include:

The FSC Indigenous Foundation worked with the Permanent Indigenous Peoples' Committee (PIPC) to develop the FSC Guidelines for the Implementation of the Right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the Indigenous Peoples’ Manual for Implementation of FPIC in the FSC system.

The foundation and the PIPC supported the update of the National Forest Standards for Finland and jointly contributed to the new National Forest Standards in Norway.

The PIPC and the foundation boosted visibility and leadership by participating in, or facilitating, 23 indigenous meetings in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Oceania. The sessions reached around 420 people, promoting indigenous rights, ethnics, and protocols related to sustainable resource use and management, and sustainable livelihoods.

The foundation will benefit from a five-year, USD13 million partnership with the US Agency for International Development, and FSC. The parties established the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD), which will enable Indigenous Peoples globally to strengthen their capacities, so they can manage and develop their communities based on their priorities, traditional knowledge, natural resource management, and respect for their rights.

For implementing the IPARD, among others, the FSC Indigenous Foundation will partner with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, Hivos, the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests and the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, to design and execute projects to support economic empowerment of indigenous women and girls in the north of the Central America region. The FSC Indigenous Foundation will promote forest-based solutions, FSC certification and partnership with companies and governments

How the indigenous Baaka of the Congo are saving forests

Companies committed to sustainable forest management in the Congo are doing their part to advance the life of Indigenous Peoples, like the Baaka, with dignity. In return, the Baaka are committed to working with companies to meet the region’s timber needs while protecting their ancestral forest home.

Membership update

FSC International Membership

FSC welcomed 70 new members in 2020. Total membership as of 31 December 2020:

Taking conversations online


In 2020, FSC members submitted 32 motions (four statutory and twenty-eight policy motions), intended for discussion at the 2020 General Assembly. Even though the General Assembly was postponed, a motions prioritization exercise was conducted, and the top five motions across chambers were discussed by the membership in two different sessions, held in October and November.

FSC regional and global membership meetings

The FSC regional and global membership meetings 2020 took place 1-8 December and presented an overview and highlights of the year’s achievements, and general priorities and key issues for 2021 at the regional and global levels. Over 1,000 registered participants from around the world joined the presentations and subsequent discussions.


In December, FSC International hosted two high-level virtual conferences to close the year. Members and stakeholders attended the new Global Strategy launch and participated in a panel where top experts in the field discussed nature-based solutions. More than 600 registered participants from around the world joined the high-level events.

  • More than 270 international members attended global strategy dialogues over six sessions in different time zones.
  • Over 900 registrants and 580 attendees, including international members and external stakeholders, participated in a three-part conference to discuss climate issues and the crucial role of FSC.
  • More than 80 membership webinars took place during the year, with 2,800 registrations and a high participation rate.

New platforms for members

In 2020, FSC International launched the Members’ Portal, an online platform exclusively for international members. The portal enables members to read the latest news tailored to their interests, stay up to date with FSC activities, and follow the implementation progress of motions passed at the FSC General Assembly. The Members’ Portal also provides a snapshot of the consultations, surveys, and other engagement and member-specific activities that are currently taking place.

Stakeholders’ solutions

Building stakeholder relationships

2020 highlights included:

  • FSC started Focus Forests in collaboration with a research consortium. The project aims to find solutions for stewardship in forests with special social and environmental values. FSC will look for ways to address biodiversity loss and climate change, while continuing to enable the provision of responsibly produced goods and services from leading forest management practices.
  • To help labour union representatives better understand what FSC can do for workers and unions, we developed a new online course that provides an overview of learning and quizzes to encourage interaction. By the end of May 2021, 40 participants had taken part in the training.
  • The FSC Core Labour Requirements, based on the principles of the International Labour Organization core conventions, are now embedded into the chain of custody standards. These are: effective abolition of child labour; elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; elimination of discrimination about employment and occupation; respect of freedom of association; and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. Additional elements are the inclusion of a policy statement and a self-assessment in which organizations can describe how they apply the requirements to their operations.

FSC has developed guidelines for gender and diversity that include recommendations for evaluation, encouragement, and inclusion of diversity and gender in the field activities of FSC, as well as monitoring the composition of FSC working groups developing forest stewardship standards, policies, and attention to diversity and gender in auditing and reporting.

  • The sustainable intensification advisory group has been exploring how the forest sector works to obtain increased production and protection at the same time – and what role FSC could play in making this possible. Two related, but separate, work projects have been identified. The first is exploring which shared social and environmental values could accompany economic values in intensified forestry, and how can these values enhance and contribute to sustainable intensification. The second is an exploration of genetic engineering in forestry outside certification, seeking to learn if FSC could have a role in safeguarding and controlling field trials outside certification.
  • The newly launched FSC Connect platform delivers user-centred digital solutions to help stakeholders better engage with FSC.

FSC Investments and Partnerships

Working together to achieve a Global Development Alliance

FSC Investments & Partnerships is an independent, mission-aligned non-profit organization based in the US which collaborates with the FSC network to leverage support, partnerships, and contributed revenue to accelerate the FSC mission.

The most significant partnership came in early 2020 when FSC engaged with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the FSC Indigenous Foundation to co-create a new global development alliance, a five-year, USD13 million Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD), with a USD6.5 million commitment from USAID.

FSC Investments & Partnerships is continuing to engage with potential partners to achieve match funding for the programme, to empower Indigenous Peoples worldwide.

Renewing commitments to capacity-building partnerships

Between 2018 and 2020, the US-based M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust made a three-year capacity grant to FSC Investments & Partnerships to expand its operations and unlock the potential of philanthropic giving to FSC’s mission. The Trust has now renewed its commitment to support the vision of healthy forests worldwide through an additional capacity grant. It is providing the start-up funding to hire a new Senior Technology Officer to support FSC’s continued digital innovations work.

Multiplying funding opportunities via good collaboration

FSC Investments & Partnerships has been in conversations with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation dating back to 2018. In 2019, these collaborations led to a successful gift supporting the work of achieving Forests For All Forever in Gabon, responding to the government’s decision to ensure that all Gabonese forest concessions are FSC certified by 2022. Throughout this process, the funder expressed interest in working with the FSC offices in Denmark and the Netherlands to support market development for lesser-known timber species in the yachting industry.

Engaging technology companies as philanthropic partners

FSC’s digital innovations appeal to a wide audience and can open doors to exciting funding opportunities.

The technology company DocuSign committed USD100,000 to FSC to support healthy forests. FSC Investments & Partnerships worked with the company to plan a ’Hack for Forests’ event during which app developers were encouraged to create innovative solutions to solve some of the critical technology hurdles for FSC.

Held in August 2020, the hackathon saw 600 participants worldwide build innovative tools to help FSC conduct audits of certified operations. DocuSign also committed an additional USD33,000 gift for IT support for the hackathon.


Understanding FSC positive carbon impacts

2020 saw the FSC climate programme initiate projects to support the understanding of FSC positive carbon impacts in the forest and FSC supply chains.

The programme worked with key allies, including the World Resources Institute-led Initiative 20x20, a country-led effort to restore 20 million hectares of land in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. Together they launched two initiatives, Innovature and Land Accelerator, to support the acceleration of nature-based businesses on improved forest management, conservation, and restoration. These initiatives reached out to more than 500 entrepreneurs in Latin America and directly supported 20 projects connected to forests in the region through mentorship and business connections.


Other 2020 highlights included:

  • FSC advanced its matchmaking role in connecting projects on the ground with investors that prioritize positive impacts on ecosystem services. One leading company with this commitment is ISA Energy, which supports forest projects through its Conexión Jaguar programme.
  • FSC is taking an active role in the discussions and challenges of the carbon market by participating in the land use technical working group of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the VERRA Forest Carbon Innovations Working Group, and the World Resources Institute-led Initiative 20x20 - Task Force on Carbon.
  • FSC actively engaged with the Green Bond Principles, the voluntary process guidelines that recommend transparency and disclosure by investors and financial institutions. FSC’s products and services, including ecosystem services and positive impact verification, are now featured in the Green Bond Principles’ reporting template.

Ecosystem services

At the end of 2020, there were 26 forest management certificate holders successfully using the FSC ecosystem services procedure.

In 2020, 49 sponsorships of ecosystem services claims were secured in Italy, France and Brazil, predominantly for carbon and biodiversity impacts

Maderacre: protecting biodiversity in the heart of the Amazon

Madre de Dios, a Peruvian province in the Amazon, is not only one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet, it is also home to fragile species that require extensive forest areas to thrive. This region’s harmonious ecosystems and natural exuberance are historically afflicted by illegal logging and hunting, deforestation for agriculture and livestock and extraction activities