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Antonio Joaquim de Oliveira

Executive Director of Dexco and President of the Deliberative Council of the Brazilian Tree Industry


Sustainability: path to perpetuity

We live in a world of constant change. Climate change, geographic conflicts, the biodiversity crisis and fluctuations in the global economy are examples of the challenges that have been imposed on society. Even though the causes and possible solutions for these problems are wide and complex, it is undeniable that part of the answers goes through the companies, since they also experience, in different scales, the impacts of this reality.

In this context, in organizations that seek the perpetuity of their businesses, discussions on sustainability ceased to be the subject of a few technicians and became part of the strategy of their operations. As the concept of environmental, social and corporate governance becomes more present in companies, its stakeholders expect increasingly improved governance of environmental and social issues. This perception of increased expectations is corroborated by the increasingly high standard of sustainability indices, certification standards and new legislation.

A topic that has received special attention is the way in which companies have faced climate change; both by minimizing its impacts and making the transition to a low-carbon economy, and by understanding the exposure of its businesses to the risks brought about by climate change, measuring its potential impact and establishing action plans to mitigate its consequences.

By naturally contributing to the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, forest plantations and natural forests play a fundamental role in combating climate change. In addition, the long history of breeding programs developed by forestry companies and the knowledge produced in universities and research institutions provide the necessary expertise for the development of genetic materials that are capable of adapting to different climatic conditions.

The Brazilian forest sector plays an important role in the management and care of biodiversity , currently contributing to the conservation of more than 6 million hectares of native vegetation, according to data from the Brazilian Tree Industry. In light of the Global Biodiversity Framework, approved at the end of 2022, companies will be progressively more required to identify and disclose their impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. Global initiatives such as the Global Information Initiative and the Task Force on Financial Disclosures Related to Nature are already showing themselves as possible ways of systematizing the format of these reports, even though the complexity of defining comparable indicators across sectors is a challenge for their implementation.

Another vector of change is the emergence of new legal requirements, which can be exemplified with the recent publication of the new European regulation against deforestation, the Regulation for Products Free from Deforestation. By demanding diligence measures from European importers to ensure that products from the seven commodity chains , one of which is wood, have not been obtained from areas deforested after 2020; regardless of whether legally or illegally, the level of responsibility of producers is increased to ensure traceability to the place of origin of the raw material.

Although at first glance this regulation only impacts direct exports to the European Union, its effects can cascade through the value chain . For example, a manufacturer that exports medium-density fiberboard furniture to Europe will need to ensure traceability of the panels used back to their forest of origin, involving more links in the production chain.

In this sense, the forest sector again has a differential that can contribute to meeting these requirements: forest management and chain of custody certifications. Since 1995, when the first certificate was issued in Brazil, companies have demonstrated and expanded their commitment to management practices that are environmentally correct, socially beneficial and economically viable, and have implemented control measures to prevent wood from controversial sources from being used in its production processes.

These are some examples that reinforce the importance of incorporating sustainability issues into the business strategy. Evolving is necessary. Organizations that refuse to make this shift in thinking may be jeopardizing their very existence in the future.