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SFC ushers in a new era of environmental responsibility in the home furnishings industry
Jan 6, 2010

The Sustainable Furnishings Council in cooperation with World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council and numerous other leading governmental, environmental, academic and trade organizations, is launching the first cross-disciplinary ECOngress on legal and sustainable wood sourcing in the home furnishings industry. The one-day event takes place Jan. 31, 2010, the day prior to the opening day of the February 2010 Las Vegas Market. The event is geared to inform every point in the supply chain as to the importance of known legal origin and responsible forestry for wood products. Participants will learn about tools, solutions, and issues of vital importance given the impending next phase of Lacey Act declaration requirements that will be effective in April 2010. ECOngress will mark the first time that such a broad array of constituencies has been assembled to address a sustainability concern in home furnishings. Major organizations represented include WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network, UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.S. Department of Justice, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Weyerhaeuser, Savannah College of Art & Design, Century Furniture, Oregon State, Williams-Sonoma, Architectural Digest and a noted ASID-LEED design practitioner. Major environmental organizations World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council and Tropical Forest Trust will also be participating and collaborating in planning for the event. The sixteen speaker panelists feature some of the world’s foremost experts and leaders on the issue, including Richard Somerville, a Coordinating Lead Author for the 2007 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in synthesizing tens of thousands of documents from credible scientific journals around the world; Linda Kramme, Manager of WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network-North America program; Elinor Colbourn, U.S. Department of Justice on Lacey prosecution; Ben Cashore, professor, Environmental Governance & Political Science, at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies; and Christina Nicholson, Director of Sustainable Development for Williams-Sonoma, Inc. “As the third biggest user of wood products, the furniture industry has a responsibility to take a leadership role in legal wood sourcing, and the ECOngress represents a groundbreaking step by bringing together every vital constituency for the very first time to show support, discuss challenges and share ideas,” said Jeff Hiller, president of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. “Leadership is taking action while others wonder ‘what if.’ The goal of the ECOngress is to identify pragmatic solutions that are good for business and the planet.” The One Good World ECOngress comes just two months before the enforcement of the U.S. Lacey Act Amendment is extended to furniture. This U.S. policy change follows The Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade of the European Union (EU) encouraging businesses to adopt purchasing policies that exclude illegal timber and promoting sound public procurement policies through voluntary agreements, but the EU has also contemplated regulations to govern the import and trade of these items. A multi-industry conference organized by Rainforest in September 2009 in Shanghai, China was attended by over 300, further confirming the global scale of the legal wood issue. “We have actually passed a point of no return in terms of environmental awareness, and although the future of the supply chain looks complicated to all of us, the ECOngress will help us move forward with a plan for sustainable growth, as opposed to leaving it to chance,” said Robert Maricich, World Market Center Las Vegas’ president and chief executive officer. “The interest in participating from environmental groups, academia and all parts of the furnishings supply chain has been remarkable for a trade-oriented event, confirming the vital importance of legal wood sourcing, the need for public discussion between all parties and the inspirational ability of responsible citizenship to transcend industry lines in working toward the common good.”

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