Forest Certification National Initiative in Nepal

1. Introduction
National initiative is a group of individuals or organizations interested in FSC’s missions and activities; and, they make an effort to institutionalize this interest at their local level. This process includes gaining FSC membership and forming some sort of group. The National Initiative may be an independent body or a separate part of an existing organization. The Statutes of 1994, describes four types or stages of National Initiative namely: FSC contact person, FSC working group, FSC advisory board and FSC national/regional office. The establishment of each stage should develop in a step-by-step process, culminating in a national/regional office, where appropriate. These stages can be thought of as a progression upwards, where each step involves a greater degree of commitment, responsibility and activity. At each stage, the National Initiative may hold “Interim” status, while it prepares for formal endorsement, this means that it is working to achieve a particular stage of national Initiative e.g. Working group, but has not yet been endorsed by FSC.

2. History of Interim Working Group of Nepal
Some initiatives have been taken since 2004 to establish a FSC national working group of Nepal . A one day national stakeholders’ workshop held in Kathmandu in August 2004 had decided to formally embark a process to establish a working group of Nepal in carrying out all necessary activities to initiate national process on forest certification. At the end of the workshop, a six member interim national working group of Nepal was announced. Thereafter, second national stakeholder workshop held in March 2005 officially declared the establishment of Interim National Working Group of Nepal . The workshop decided to base the working group within Nepal Foresters’ Association and use it as secretariat office. The workshop declared the group as the official body to initiate national process on forest certification and to lead toward formulation of national standards. It also entrusted the working group to coordinate with FSC and other international certification authorities and implement forest certification activities in Nepal . Since its establishment the interim working group has organized series of meetings, talk programs, discussions, workshops and trainings. The interim working group has also gathered relevant certification information through field visits to different certification pilot projects. It has formed two sub- committees’ namely standard drafting sub-committee and promotion subcommittee. The standards development sub-committee is responsible for drafting of sustainable forest management standards, making consultations and submission of finalized standards to the group for endorsement. The promotion sub-committee is responsible for awareness raising, information distribution, campaigning and educational activities about forest certification. The working group has also developed a detailed procedure for standard drafting and finalization.

3. Mission
National Working Group of Nepal (NWGN)’s mission is to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable forest management of the Nepal ‘s forests.

4. Objectives
The society is established for the following objectives:

1. To generally facilitate the development of National Forest Management Standards in line with guidelines promulgated by the FSC or other certification authority;

2. To develop and manage a process for certification;

3. To facilitate a process for consultation between the society, members and other people with an interest in such things as certification, chain of custody, product labeling and other related matters affecting such persons;

4. To provide for debate between members and forest management stakeholders on certification related issues through such forums as workshops, conferences and research projects;
5. To promote certified forest management and use of certified forest products nationally and internationally;

6. Act as a consultative body for issues raised by the FSC or other certification authorities relating to certification

7. To disseminate information on certification, including FSC and other certification authorities to interested parties;

8. To provide the FSC and other certification authorities with advice and information;

9. To raise funds required for the operation and execution of the society’s activities;

10. To represent its members for the purpose of carrying out the other objects of the society;

11. To obtain formal endorsement of its initiatives form the FSC and other certification authorities;

12. To build relationships with forest management stakeholders at all levels to encourage participation in the development of national forest management standards;

13. To encourage dialogue between members;

14. To promote, sponsor, fund and/or undertake( as the case may be) such other activities as are or may be relevant or conducive to the other objects of the society; and

15. To act as the nominated agent for forest management certification trademarks in Nepal

5. Operating mechanism
This group directly reports to FSC International for certification related activities. It meets at least four times per year. The group elects its own coordinator. Elected members of the working group serve for three years. Quorum for the group meeting is four out of six of the elected members. The group always aims to work through consensus but where that is impossible a vote may be called with each chamber having equal weight of votes. It grows in line with its own activities & resources. National working group members work on a voluntary basis, but their working expenditure, for example going to the field, could be met when necessary.

6. Membership system
National assembly of stakeholders’ is the highest body or steering committee of the working group. Membership is a mandatory requirement to attend, vote and get elected in the working group. .Membership of the group is open to all stakeholders. The membership is known as national working groups’ stakeholder membership. Broadly, the membership is of two types- member stakeholder and non member stakeholder- according to power they exercise. The member stakeholders are eligible to vote and get elected in the working group but the non member stakeholders neither could vote nor get elected in the working group. They could attend meetings as observers and comment on drafts and documents, with the provision that they do not undermine or block the process. The stakeholders either member or non-member are divided into three chambers: economic, social and environmental. Stakeholders’ of the group must be willing to represent their own chamber. The representative of government and certification bodies are barred from getting member stakeholder position instead they could participate as non member stakeholder. Organizations and individuals with a vested interest in commercial forest product organizations, including employees, consultants or representatives of forest product companies, certification bodies, industry association ( whether for profit or not for profit), wholesales, retailers, traders, end uses, and consulting companies may apply for economic chamber stakeholder membership.
Stakeholder membership of the social chamber is limited to non profit making non governmental organizations and assigned individuals with demonstrated commitment to environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management. Stakeholder membership of environmental chamber is limited to organizations and social movements and assigned professionals involved in natural resource management and environment conservation to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management.

7. Membership application process
Individual and organization should submit a written membership application and eligibility showing documents to the working group through the secretariat office. The working group will finally decide whether to approve the application or not. The membership fee is different for individuals and organizations. Membership requires first registration fee of Rs. 200 for institution and Rs.100 for individual and annual renewal fee of Rs.50 for institution and Rs.25 for individual. To distribute membership, working group annually issues a public notice requesting interested parties to submit their application for membership as a stakeholder.

8. Internal Change procedure
Working group members get elected from national stakeholders’ assembly which is also known as the steering committee. The assembly held in every three years to elect the working group members. The working group member stakeholders’, attending the workshop, nominate two members from each chamber to form a six member working group, but if such procedure does not work voting system is adopted. The working group composition should mirror with a balance of environmental, economic and social interests in three chambers. The elected members will themselves delegate one of the appropriate person to act as a coordinator of the working group who will be responsible for all communications regarding standards development.

9. Funding
The national initiatives role includes fund-raising, and approaching funding sources. Funding could be in the form of financial and technical assistance. Financial assistance will be for certification workshops, consultative processes and for drafting standards. Technical assistance will be in the form of support on FSC certification processes, consultative processes, help in drafting standards, and training staff or consultants. National government, international development agencies, private foundations, business agencies, private foundations, business and environmental organizations will be consulted for funding in standards development processes.

10. Stakeholders’ consultation process
All registered stakeholders (member & non- member) and unregistered stakeholders listed at secretariat office will be consulted to receive draft standards as it is developed. The consultation will be carried out by holding local and national seminars where people can discuss their concerns and posting information on web sites. The purpose of consultation is to maintain the transparency of the process; to provide a structured forum for stakeholder input; & to produce consensus-driven forest certification standards, acceptable to the broadest possible range of stakeholders.