Thémis to increase European sustainable procurement transparency
Thémis is a new data gathering tool and information portal being developed to enable European timber trade federations to monitor and subsequently benchmark and promote verified sustainable timber procurement.
The project is being led by Netherlands-based forestry and timber sustainability consultant Probos. Working with the Netherlands Timber Trade Associsation, it has monitored and reported on sustainable sourcing in the Dutch industry for 11 years and followed market progress since 2005.
It is working on the new initiative in association with Le Commerce du Bois, Fedustria, the UK Timber Trade Federation, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) and IT company Graphius.
Funding for the project is from IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative, the Congo Basin Programme for Promotion of Certified Sustainable Forest Management (PPECF) and the participating federations.
Although the focus of the main donors is on tropical regions, the tool will also cover softwood, temperate hardwoods, panels and some secondary timber products.
Some European timber trade federations (TTFs) have already implemented responsible timber procurement policies (TPPs) for members. But it is generally acknowledged that these need to target continued growth in levels of responsible timber purchasing and, also that other federations need to follow suit to increase positive impact on the forest. Facilitating sustainable procurement data gathering and monitoring, says Probos, can assist ongoing enhancement of existing TPPs and encourage adoption by organisations which don’t yet have them.
By reporting procurement data, TTF members create transparency and can monitor progress and target interventions, said Probos Director and Senior Advisor Mark van Benthem.
The tool, he added, could also have potential image benefits for participating timber trade federations and the wider timber sector.
The data gathered will give TTFs a better view on members’ CSR performance, help distinguish them from non-TTF members and add value to membership, said Mr van Benthem.
If it shows a high percentage of imports coming from well-managed forests, it helps positively brand the sector and timber generally.
The data collection tool is designed to be easy to use and allows companies to itemize their purchases by type of product covered by certification systems, regulatory systems (e.g. FLEGT) and legality verification systems.