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Government adds social criteria to procurement policy

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has announced that from 1 April 2010 new social criteria will be added to the UK Government’s timber procurement policy, in addition to the requirement for it to be legal and sustainable.

Central Government buys around 20% of all the timber bought in the UK, a figure that rises to 40% when local authorities and other government bodies are included.

Benn said: “Developed nations such as the UK must support developing nations so that they do not have to make a choice between their ecosystems and their economies. Developing countries have long – and rightly – called for action by consumer countries to support their own efforts to manage their forests.

The social criteria that will now be included in the UK Government’s procurement policy are:

  • Identification, documentation and respect of legal, customary and traditional tenure and use rights related to the forest;

  • Mechanisms for resolving grievances and disputes, including those relating to tenure and use rights, to forest management practices and to work conditions; and

  • Safeguarding the basic labour rights and health and safety of forest workers.

    The social criteria have been adopted following a consultation with trade and environmental stakeholder organisations which concluded in August 2009.

    “The new social criteria demonstrate the UK’s commitment to use government purchasing power to help push illegal and unsustainable timber out of the market by improving labour standards, protecting the interests of developing nations and tackling climate change,” Benn continued.

  • About Fiona Russell-Horne

    Fiona Russell-Horne
    Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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