After a successful four-year run, the DFID-funded InFIT project received renewed support focussing on investments in the forest sector
Designed to reduce the impact of Chinese worldwide investment activity in the forest industry, phase II of the China-UK Collaboration on International Forest Investment and Trade (InFIT) programme recently launched. The aim is to build on the momentum achieved in phase I, which ran from February 2014 to March 2018 and emphasised the importance of verifying that all products be legally produced and best practices of sustainable production are followed.
China’s growing demand for forest products both for domestic use and, in particular, for export, combined with limited industry knowledge about the importance of verification, led to a risk that China would not be allowed to sell in North American and European markets, which require strict verification. The value of Chinese exports to these markets has increased enormously over the past two decades in parallel with verification requirements on legal production, which have become more stringent.
US$ 55 bn
Phase I of InFIT helped to develop a policy framework for verifying the legality of forest products as a first key step in regularising industry standards in China. Equally as important, the programme helped align many actors, both governmental and at the enterprise level, creating a broad consensus around verification. A focus on capacity-building, combined with the development of specific guidelines on how to remain compliant with legal standards, improved the ability of enterprises in the sector to operate as trustworthy partners.
Building on achievements and breaking new ground – a two-step programme
The next phase of InFIT seeks to build on these achievements in several key ways. A comprehensive set of government policies and regulations is core to the entire process of product verification, ensuring that enterprises working in the field know what is expected of them and how to build trust among international partners to ensure that standards are being met. Though the first steps were taken in phase I, this next phase will work even more actively with multiple government agencies to implement policy.
In addition to the verification process, the first stage of InFIT also made progress in ensuring buy-in among Chinese enterprises and membership associations for more sustainable forestry practices. Building on this momentum, the soon-to-be launched next stage will deepen and broaden the reach of these organisations and equip their members to make even more transformative changes in their business models and value chains, prioritising sustainable production.
Finally, there will be a renewed emphasis on promoting research and analysis within the sector to help Chinese policymakers and industry groups make informed decisions, guiding the overall direction of the sector moving forward.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) funds InFIT, and it is implemented by LTS, part of the NIRAS Group, in partnership with the British consultancy Efeca. This phase is expected to last for at least two years.
Read our in-depth project profile here.