Role of the Marketplace in Great Bear Rainforest Agreement

Canopy and Global Customers: Key Behind the Scenes Players in Great Bear Success

The old saying of “many hands make light work” rings true when it comes to the precedent setting Great Bear Rainforest Agreements. Well-deserved credit has been showered on First Nations of the region, the Province of British Columbia, select forestry companies and key environmental organizations [1] who worked over the years to finalize this historic level of conservation.

Lesser known and also deserving of acknowledgement is the critical role that global customers have played in bringing these landmark Agreements to fruition. Over the past 16 years of the Great Bear Rainforest negotiations, Canopy has worked to build a global movement of forest products customers to become champions for conservation and sustainable forestry.

At key times during the decades-long negotiations, as discussions floundered or parties looked likely of leaving the bargaining table, forest product customers we partner with stepped in to encourage their suppliers and government to continue negotiating.

Large publishers, printers, fashion brands, home-improvement retailers and telecommunications companies from across the globe have consistently asked their suppliers to provide FSC-certified and/or recycled fibre products, and requested explicitly to not have endangered forest fibre used in their supply chain.

Photo by Andrew Wright

During the early “wars in the woods” days of the Great Bear Rainforest campaign, that were characterized by blockades and conflict, forest product customers helped tip the scales towards logging moratoria and consensus building. Their visits to the rainforest, meetings with suppliers, governments and environmental groups provided encouragement to the negotiators to strive towards positive outcomes for conservation, local economies and a supply of sustainable products.

Many leading corporations, CEOs and executives have maintained their commitment to the Great Bear Rainforest over the years. They have gathered for Customer and Investor Roundtables, tracked progress and, when necessary, engaged their suppliers and the BC government directly to encourage continued progress.

“By working wherever possible with progressive suppliers, speaking up when our voice could make a difference, and supporting all of the players sitting at the negotiations table, we’ve been able to play a role in creating a legacy for the future. That will always be a source of pride for everyone involved.” Lisa Morden, Senior Director, Global Sustainability at Kimberly-Clark Professional. 

The Globe and Mail, Time, Procter and Gamble, TC Transcontinental, Kimberly Clark, Rogers, and EILEEN FISHER among others, participated in June 2015 in a Canopy-led Customer Round Table that proved pivotal in unlocking the draft legislation that is the foundation of today’s Great Bear Rainforest Agreements: a testimony to the power of the marketplace.

“The conservation success of Great Bear Rainforest is a testament to the tenacity of all involved, including major customers of forest products,” said Shona Barton Quinn, Sustainability Leader at EILEEN FISHER.

First Nations and the B.C. provincial government have demonstrated remarkable leadership in forging this global precedent. Whilst many stakeholders have toughed it out in the negotiation trenches for years, forest product customers have been key in tracking progress and inspiring solutions.

Canopy looks forward to bringing the positive influence of its work with major players of the global marketplace to support meaningful conservation and supply chain solutions in other endangered forest regions in Canada and around the globe.

1. ForestEthics, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club BC