During the course of 2018 your ATIBT team has once again been very active representing the organization at many meetings, in various parts of the world, with governments, donors, NGO’s, and universities, or at trade conferences and wood shows. We can be proud that ATIBT is recognized by all these stakeholders as the professional organization for the tropical timber industry, and this, thanks to a very competent and dedicated staff.
As the year draws to an end, I would like to use this last Flash Info of 2018 to highlight some of the most important developments and/or activities throughout the year.
With the backing of some of ATIBT’s major and long-time donors (the French AFD and German KfW) a Think-Tank meeting was organized last May. The meeting was attended by ATIBT’s members representing the private sector, academia, consultants and NGO’s. The objective of this brainstorming session was to better understand the challenges tropical forests, and their traditional operators, are faced with.
Following this meeting an action plan was drawn up with five particular areas to focus on: improve the image of tropical timber; explore new markets and opportunities; give forests their true value; valorise eco system services provided by operators; reach out to, and work together with, Asian operators, importers and end-users.
In early January 2019 a second Think-Tank meeting is planned in order to take stock of the work and results so far, and to agree on the next concrete steps required to be taken during the coming year.
ATIBT’s bi-annual Racewood event was held in June in Libreville, in conjunction with the Gabon Wood Show. This combination was a great opportunity for participants to listen to presentations and debate the many challenges our industry is faced with. At the same time participants had the opportunity to meet with exhibitors showcasing some of the latest developments in the world of wood processing in Gabon.
In July ATIBT opened its office in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The office is staffed by three persons whose primary task it is to help with the implementation of the VPA / FLEGT process, oversee projects in the interest of sustainable forest management practices and have close interactions with the forest ministry (for instance, when it comes to drafting the new forestry code). Our Brazzaville based colleagues can of course count on the full support of the ATIBT staff in Libreville (Gabon) and Paris.
ATIBT’s Fair&Precious brand celebrated its first anniversary last October. The idea of this brand is to actively promote the use of sustainably produced and certified (FSC or PEFC) tropical timber. We are pleased to note that decision makers, such as councils, architects and D-I-Y chains, are increasingly aware of the availability of certified tropical timber however, there is still significant work ahead of us to ensure that the use of legal and certified tropical timber becomes the norm. In order to reach this objective, we are grateful for the ongoing support of IDH through their initiative, the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC).
In addition, various ATIBT projects dealing with sustainable forest management practices, legality or the promotion of lesser known timber species, will continue as before. These projects would not be possible without the financial support of our donors, but also the contribution of our members.
Next year promises to be again a fascinating year for our organization with as a highlight ATIBT’s Forum in China. We have chosen China in view of the importance of this country for our industry but also, because we would like to better understand China’s expectations of our members when it comes to forest management practices, certification, down-stream processing, introduction of new timber species, etc. ATIBT, on the other hand, is ready to share know-how and the lessons we have learned over the last decades.
Our Forum plans met with great interest and enthusiasm by various Chinese stakeholders and shortly we will be able to inform you about the exact dates and venue.
Finally, and on behalf of the entire ATIBT team, as well as the Executive Committee and the Board, I would like to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas, and for 2019 much happiness, good health and success.