Treasury gets gold star for timber procurement whilst Education must try harder.

 FSC certified logs at Pallisco logging company, East province, Cameroon. Pallisco is FSC certified and is a member of WWF's Global Forest and Trade Network.

A report by WWF has found that the Treasury is the best performing department for implementing the government’s timber procurement policy designed to help the government avoid purchasing illegally or unsustainably logged timber. The Department for Education was bottom of the class whilst Defra was in the middle of the 21 central government departments who are meant to follow the mandatory guidelines, despite being home to the unit designed to assist Whitehall in managing responsible procurement. WWF’s report follows the government’s own Greening Government report indicating the government’s performance overall on timber procurement has been in decline.

The aim of the 17 year old Timber Procurement Policy (TPP) is to enable the government to drive responsible purchasing so that it will not have a negative impact on forests and forest-dependent communities around the world.
Overall WWF has found the government must do more to uphold its own policies, with one department, the Northern Ireland Office, unaware there is a policy. The government has huge purchasing power, and it is thought that last year it was responsible for between 30-50% of all office furniture bought in the UK. Many businesses, including Kimberly-Clark, Pearson, Saint Gobain, Wilmott- Dixon, and BSW Timber are joining WWF in calling on the government to do more and join them in making sure all their timber sourcing is sustainable by 2020.

Beatrix Richards, Head of Corporate Stewardship - Natural Commodities, said;

“The government has huge buying power and influence and, as the self-declared ‘greenest government ever’, it should at the very least implement its own policies. WWF’s report shows implementation is patchy at best and that even basic requirements, like checking that timber products are not purchased from unsustainable or illegal sources, have not yet been adopted by all departments.”

“People will be dismayed to know that it is still legally possible to buy illegally sourced timber in the UK, and that our own government, due to the poor implementation of its policy, may well, be supporting illegal deforestation of some of the last natural forests around the world. The government needs to act decisively and ensure it is using public funds appropriately to support those businesses which are engaging in responsible forest trade.”
WWF has concerns that many departments may potentially be supporting the continued trade in illegally-sourced or unsustainable timber and wood products by not checking adequately the supply of their purchased products to confirm they have come from legal and sustainable sources.  WWF believes that there could be even more impact if the wider public sector, such as the NHS, universities and schools, also implemented the government’s procurement policies.

WWF’s current Forest Campaign is calling on the UK government to help close loopholes in EU legislation that allow timber from potentially illegal sources to enter both the UK and EU market, and to put in place measures to drive a market in 100% sustainable timber.

Improve the Budget to safeguard the UK’s economic future, says WWF-UK

Cover photo from the WWF-UK report A Greener Budget

A smarter approach to the UK's annual Budget, that takes account of the value of the natural environment and responds to global threats and opportunities from natural resource scarcity and climate change, would promote greater resilience and generate substantial benefits to the UK economy and businesses, WWF-UK claims today.

In its new report ‘A Greener Budget: sustaining our prosperity in a changing world’, WWF-UK sets out a suite of practical policy recommendations that would help to shift the UK to a sustainable, resource efficient, low-carbon economy.

Drawing on the latest evidence, the report shows how these policy measures are win-wins for the environment and the economy - cutting public sector costs, generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, creating new market opportunities, improving UK competitiveness, and insulating the economy and businesses from growing risks of resource scarcity and climate change.

Some of these measures will pay off even in the short-term – such as cutting energy and resource use. UK businesses could save £23billion in the space of one year through no-cost or low-cost resource efficiency measures, based on Defra’s own estimates. Other evidence suggests that, over longer time frames, improving the UK’s resource efficiency could generate half a million new jobs by 2030.

WWF-UK‘s recommendations include:

  • Promoting the protection and improvement of natural assets, for example by introducing a ‘stress test’ to evaluate risks to the UK economy and businesses from environmental degradation;
  • Driving innovation and investment in resource efficiency and the circular economy, for example through adjustments to incentives (e.g. lowering the lower rate of landfill tax) and by increasing access to affordable finance;
  • Incentivising energy efficiency and low-carbon industry growth, for example by giving the Green Investment Bank powers to borrow from the private sector;
  • Ensuring government expenditure promotes sustainability, for example by phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies;
  • Promoting a more resilient and sustainable financial system, by for example establishing a requirement for the Bank of England to explicitly take sustainability issues into account when regulating financial markets.
The report also outlines opportunities to significantly cut costs from the public Budget - such as by improving the UK’s air quality and improving access to urban green space to improve public health and reduce health costs, and through improving the UK’s degraded river catchments to help reduce flood risk.

Led by WWF-UK’s economics team – with contributions from experts from government, major companies, the financial sector, and NGOs – the report demonstrates that current Budget processes and economic policies do not adequately take account of the growing risks and costs of environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climate change.

David Nussbaum (chief executive, WWF-UK) says:

“The UK is missing out on opportunities; WWF’s report shows that we could improve the resilience of our economy, build new markets and create many new jobs if we embrace a sustainable approach to our economy. We’re not paying enough attention to the economic risks associated with natural resource scarcity, natural capital depletion, and climate change, or to the opportunities that adapting to these changes can bring.

“We have a huge opportunity to change direction and reap the rewards. The Budget can work harder to drive the transition to a sustainable economy - investing in the natural asset base on which the economy and businesses depend, and providing greater stimulus to new and emerging sectors that will be vital engines of clean, hi-tech, sustainable growth in the future.”

For further information, please contact Toby Roxburgh, Economics Adviser, WWF-UK This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 07990 531012

Lewis strips down to his speedos to protect the crown jewels of the Southern Ocean

WWF Ambassador Lewis Pugh in Antarctica.

UN Patron of the Seas and WWF-UK Ambassador Lewis Pugh is currently limbering up to take on his greatest challenge yet, by being the first person to ever swim in five of the most southern-most waters in the world with no insulation or layers beyond his speedos. 

Starting on Friday 13th February Lewis will be swimming 5km in sub zero waters in order to raise awareness and support for efforts to make the Ross Sea an MPA (Marine Protected Area).

The seas around Antarctica are home to some of the most pristine and least understood ecosystems and species on our planet. Past exploitation targeting whales and seals has given way to commercial fisheries for toothfish and krill. These are managed through the science-based Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Like Lewis, WWF is calling upon CCAMLR to designate a network of Marine Protected Areas around Antarctica to protect its amazing wildlife as a legacy for future generations. The Ross Sea is one of the key areas identified and would protect an area of 1.34 million km2.

Lewis will be sharing the waters with leopard seals, blue whales and orcas (killer whales) as well as less well known creatures ranging from tiny krill to 80 kg toothfish and the Colossal Squid.

At WWF, we’re calling for large scale Marine Protected Areas to safeguard Antarctica’s amazing wildlife. We’re helping to reduce illegal fishing practices and ensure that existing fishing is sustainable. And we’re also raising awareness of the threats of climate change that Antarctica, and all of us, currently face.

Rod Downie, WWF’s Polar Expert, said: “Antarctica needs champions and the opportunity now exists for the Russian government to take a leadership role. Russia will chair CCAMLR later this year, and we hope that as part of their legacy, we will see a new Ross Sea Marine Protected Area. This would be one of the crown jewels of marine conservation globally."

Lewis will break the world record for most southerly swims in three out of the five challenges.