José Manuel Jaquotot, Deputy Director of "Silvicultura y Montes" from MAGRAMA, opened the seminar by providing an overview of EUTR Regulation. He also explained that the Spanish Administration is carrying out the necessary procedures in order to implement it, although there already is a delay compared to other countries of the European Union. This has to do with the complexity of its implementation in this country because of the competitions Spain has regarding this matter. This topic was very much talked about, as it concerns companies importers of paper, wood and its derivatives. It is their obligation to prove the legal origin of the products they place for the first time in the European Union.
I think that the intervention of the Spain Ministry was very clarifying and, above all, absolutely necessary because, at least, it gave an answer to the question that was hanging on the air: why the EUTR Regulation is not implemented in Spain yet?
After that, it was Alberto Romero´s turn, General Secretary of AEIM, with an enjoyable and enlightening presentation. He began by reminding that wood and paper products as well as its derivatives, against what many people think, are renewable materials, are among the most sustainable and in spite of that, are those that more legal requirements must meet. Alberto explained in a didactic and simple way the action plan of the European Union for the forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT), and the EUTR Regulation. Those were issues that aroused a great interest amongst participants, especially because it affects many Spanish companies, not only to avoid administrative sanctions when the EUTR is running, but also to safeguard their reputation and use transparency and sustainability of their purchasing policies as an added value before the consumer.
Jordi Roma´s presentation: Having clarified the legal issues, it was time to talk about Indonesia through Jordi Roma, forestry expert, who traveled there last year to write a report on forest management in the country and visited Asia Pulp & Paper facilities and concessions. Based on his own experience in the field, Jordi stressed out that the EUTR regulation has affected positively to Indonesia's forests, since their interest in trading with Europe, has helped out sustainable forest management. Indeed, Indonesia was the first country to sign a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with Europe, paving the way for obtaining FLEGT licenses for products from Indonesia which already have the endorsement of the Indonesian certification system, SVLK.
By explaining the Asia Pulp & Paper case, Jordi underlined the excellent work that we are undertaking, especially since 2013, with the entry into force of our Forest Conservation Policy, which ended with to the clearing of natural forest in our concessions and our suppliers´. In fact, I want to reproduce in here Jordi Roma´s words , as we feel very proud of what he said about our company: "This company has set extremely ambitious objectives and is complying. If we decide to trust in Indonesia and APP as a supplier, is because we will to reward sustainable forest management and we want to encourage that other companies and countries follow this lead ".
Following Jordi Roma´s intervention, our turn arrived. Carlos Olivet, Manager Director of Vintage Paper, and myself, had the opportunity to present Asia Pulp & Paper sustainability policies, with particular emphasis on our forest management policy that not only meets, but overcomes the standards of the sustainability global supply chain with initiatives such as the protection and restoration of a million hectares of the Indonesian forest.
To finish with, a panel discussion on responsible purchasing took place, moderated by the environment and science journalist, Miguel Gonzalez Corral, where participated in addition to the speakers of the day, Alejandro Palmarola, responsible for indirect purchases of Calidad Pascual; Monica Chao, head of the department of environment and sustainability of NH Hotels Group and Javier Varón, owner of TRADIPACART.
All participants agreed that sustainability is a factor that is gaining ground in the purchasing decisions of both companies and consumers. Alejandro Palmarola explained that companies must not only meet the standards, but anticipate them responsibly. He added that companies really aware of the importance of control in the supply chain are those that really value the their brands reputation.
Meanwhile, Monica Chao insisted on the importance of supporting sustainable suppliers, however, stressed out the difficulty of conveying these practices to consumers, as there is not a widespread awareness of the certificates that, however, they do help companies when choosing suppliers.
Finally, Javier Varón explained that the EUTR regulation offers many advantages to producers, since "the paper industries are those caring for the world's forests, but citizens do not know that".
As the main conclusion for the day, I'd say the need to educate and sensitize both companies and consumers about the importance of sustainability in all the links of the supply chain, from sustainable forest management, to responsible paper production, wood and its derivatives, such as packaging, for example. As stated during the day, this is an area where there is still a great unawareness and yet it may be a huge business opportunity for companies.