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Brief Report

BWI-FES Regional Seminar on Sustainable Sources of Raw Materials

13-14 September 2007, Kathmandu, Nepal


The Asian-Pacific region often receives attention in the international debates about unsustainable use of forestry products. The UN, the EU and environment-related internatioal organizations have often brought the adverse consequences of the illegal logging on workers and people's lives. But, the incentives from this act to the government, corporations and businessmen are so strong that this process go on unabated.

Global civil society and unions are therefore formulating alternative strategies to stop the reckless destruction of forest. Sustainable source of raw materials is based on sound management proctices. The basic principle of sustainable forestry is that the amount of goods and services yielded from a forest should be at a level the forest is capable of sustaining the soil quality, watershed features and seed source for the sustainablity of future eco-system.

Depletion of forestry implies degradation of ecosystems, clean water, cut of timber and undermining of recreation, wildlife and other resources that human beings are receiving from forests. Workers depending on these sources are the most affected by the degradation of forest. Preservation of forestry is also linked to securing the livelihood of rural community.

With these views into consideration Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized two days regional seminars to formulate effective strategies by the unions and action plans to achieve sustainable forestry through effective trade unions.

Objectives

The basic objectives of the regional seminar were to

a) Identify and discuss various modalities of sustainable use of raw materials, and
b) Outline regional and national level action plans to promote sustainable use of raw materials.

Participation

There were altogether 34 participants including 10 women across BWI Affiliates of various forestry sectors in the Asia/Pacific Region.

Methodology

The training utilized visual presentation, lectures, group discussion and presentation of case studies of various countries.

Resources Persons

Bob Ramsay, Mohammad Khalid Atan, Apolinar Z. Tolentino, Balan Nair, Anita Normark, R.C. Khuntia and Ambet Yuson.

Themes

Major themes of discussion were: trade union perspective on forest management, an end to unsustainable and illegal logging, trade union response to outsourcing and privatization in forestry and wood industries, union capacity requirement for sustainable forestry management, and requirement of national and regional actions. Concerted organizing campaigns on MNCs were also raised. The case studies of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and India were presented and discussed. The participants also highlighted the need for the development of alternative future to the benefit of workers.

Evaluation

Participants found that they have learned a lot. They agreed to share information and experience and build a strong solidarity among them for collective action. The seminar dealt with issues and challenges in sustainable forestry management as well as capacity requirement and adopted resolutions for consideration of BWI First Regional Conference in Kathmandu from September 15-16, 2007.

The resolution specifically includes to expedite the functional aspect of forestry network as a platform to launch campaign on the rights of migrant workers and their families on ill-effects of outsourcing, to engage international bodies on sustainable forest management with an objective to increase the presence and participation of trade unions, seek to increase the capacity of affiliates to become active and effective members of BWI Global Wood and Forestry Network, to create platform conducive for affiliates to work in close cooperation with media and NGOs and to promote community-based forest management by giving due respect to traditional system.

Additionally, union leaders agreed to conduct workers education program, including Occupational Health and Safety, vocational technical training skills development, strong unionization of young people, muster support from media and NGOs, create protection committees for migrant and vulnerable workers and alternative employment using non-timber forest products and forming micro-enterprise or cooperative units.

 
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