Dutch government and industry sign Green Deal

The Netherlands Green Deal initiative to promote sales of sustainably sourced timber has taken a major step forward, with government departments and leading businesses signing up to the project.

At a recent Green Deal summit in The Hague, 27 organisations pledged to support it. These comprised the Dutch Ministries of Infrastructure, Environment, Economic and Foreign Affairs and big name companies from the construction, furniture and retails sectors. Signatories also included the government-backed Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and not for profit environmental agency Tropenbos.

 The Green Deal launched in 2012 out of a joint campaign, “Consciously Timber” (Bewust met Hout), run by two key supporters, the Netherlands Timber Trade   (VVNH) and Joinery Manufacturers (NBvT) Associations.  This initiative was designed to stimulate sustainable timber demand and, said the VVNH, has already contributed to an increase in the proportion of its members’ business comprising sustainably verified material. In fact, in 2012 it accounted for 83% of their total imports of 2 million m3, compared to 63% in 2009.

The Green Deal commits supporters to promote timber from sustainably managed forests. This includes creating awareness on sustainability issues and knowledge transfer on topics such as certification. The group will also   tackle misconceptions about timber’s environmental impact and help ensure the effectiveness of chain of custody systems.

“We opted for a very practical approach,” said NTTA managing director Paul van den Heuvel. “Together, Green Deal stakeholders will work to identify and remove barriers currently preventing people from specifying timber from sustainably managed forests."

"In bringing together these 27 organisations covering the whole supply chain, the Green Deal will enable us to tackle outstanding market problems better and quicker,” added Elco Brinkman, president of Building Netherlands, which represents 4,500 construction companies.

The Dutch government sees the Green Deal complementing its own sustainable procurement policy and efforts against illegal logging. “A substantial amount of our timber comes from outside the Netherlands, which makes us responsible for supplier forests abroad,” said Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Wilma Mansveld.

Green Deal information, including an introductory video, has been posted on www.bewustmethout.nl. The ultimate aim is for 85% of all timber used in the Netherlands to be verified sustainably sourced by 2015.