While China has become a major player in the African forest market and today absorbs nearly 50% of the timber production from this region, the ATIBT is strengthening the dialogue with Chinese stakeholders for the legal and sustainable management of tropical timber in the Congo Basin…

As part of its objective to strengthen the actors committed to the sustainable and legal management of tropical forests, ATIBT has forged relationships with some Chinese actors in the forest-based sector. With the support of ITTO and ICZM, ATIBT has been able to move closer to the two main initiatives that support and mentor the Chinese private forest sector: CTWPDA and GGSC.

ATIBT’s exchanges with these partners since May 2018, and the fundamental interaction with ITTO, which has accompanied the GGSC initiative since its inception, led to the joint organization of the International Forum « Together Towards Green Global Supply Chains » held from 22 to 25 October 2019 in China.

This international forum was organized around the common objective « to promote the advancement of legal and sustainable supply chains, incentivising good production and responsible purchasing practices while delivering additional benefits to poverty alleviation through the creation of employment, economic growth, income generation etc, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation. »

The international forum was attended by 336 participants of which about a third registered through ATIBT, of which more than 80% were ATIBT member participants, representing almost 40% of its membership, thus highlighting a good representation of the actors acting in the Congo Basin and more direct interaction between the actors. The remaining registered participants were registered through ITTO and also Chinese organizations, thus allowing different industrial actors to attend the event.

The critical situation of tropical forests in addressing climate change and their effects on social and economic development calls for the mobilization and commitment of all actors in the forest-based sector to join efforts to ensure the legal and sustainable production and consumption of wood throughout the supply chain.

A number of initiatives were concretized during this forum and the CTWPDA conference (in Huzhou), including (1):

  • A statement to promote the global green supply chains between UFIGA & UFIAG to lead all their members, forest industrialists in Gabon, towards a minimum certification of legality by the end of 2022.
  • A memorandum of understanding between ATIBT & CTWPDA to strengthen the relations between the parties through information exchanges and experience sharing on legality and sustainable management of tropical forests issues.
  • GGSC’s invitation to the outgoing ATIBT President, Mr. R. Hunink, to participate in the GGSC Entrepreneur Think Tank, an instrument designed to contribute to the consolidation of the initiative.

This common dynamic highliths the commitment to work together towards legal and sustainable supply chains to meet the needs of the present without compromising the capacity of future generations.

To maintain this momentum and ensure the implementation of legal and sustainable supply chains of tropical timber in the Congo Basin, collaboration and exchanges with asian stakeholders in the Congo Basin should be strengthened, particularly through the promotion and identification of operational links in producer countries.

If in Gabon, the forest-based sector now has a certification obligation, this is not yet the case in Congo, Cameroon and DRC, the countries of the Congo Basin where ATIBT mainly operates. The evolution will depend on the willingness of Chinese companies (and importers in China), especially in countries where they are not (yet) under political constraint. The fear expressed by some is that the gap between Gabon and other countries will widen.

In order to reduce this risk, the dialogue established and the joint work with the GGSC and CTWPDA organisations, but also with the various trade unions in the Congo Basin, should make it possible to ensure the involvement and strong commitment of chinese operators, who represent a major issue in the establishment of legal and sustainable supply chains in the forest-based sector.

In view of these elements and as the dialogue highlighted the link between the legal and sustainable management of tropical forests and climate change mitigation and impacts on biodiversity, over the next 12 months, the actions to be carried out should make it possible to strengthen collaboration and exchanges, in particular through the support and implementation of innovative projects.

You will find all the documents via the links below:


Shanghai Forum 2019 – Final report annexes

(1) These agreements are available on request for ATIBT members.