NCIV celebrates judgement that the Malaysian certification system does not meet the Dutch Procurement Criteria for sustainable timber

Early 2010, the Timber Procurement Assessment Committee (TPAC) judged that the Malaysian certification system MTCS meets the Dutch Procurement Criteria for timber. NCIV together with Greenpeace, Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands), Wereld Natuur Fonds (WWF Netherlands) and ICCO (the Dutch Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation) filed a notice of objection to this judgement in April of the same year. After a detailed objection procedure, including a hearing on 14 September 2010, TPAC has revised its judgement and holds that the MTCS does not conform to the Dutch criteria.

TPAC_OrangAsli_gravesiteThe main reason for NCIV to initiate this objection procedure was that MTCS does not respect the rights of indigenous peoples. Together with a network organisation of indigenous peoples in Malaysia (JOAS), and several other social and indigenous organisations in Malaysia, NCIV gathered much evidence that the rights of the indigenous peoples of Malaysia, the Orang Asli, are not recognised and not respected in MTCS-certified forests. They are denied access to the forest on which they depend for their livelihood. These forests have been used for centuries by the Orang Asli for hunting and collecting food, and are an important part of their culture, identity and livelihood. Other reasons for the objection were the large scale conversion of certified forests into plantations and the lack of transparency of the way the management operates the Malaysian system. Many reports are not made public and detailed maps of certified areas are not available. The objecting organisations pointed out that to be able to make a correct judgement, the assessment committee should take a better look at the practical implementation of a certification system and not only do a paperwork assessment. They also pointed out that issues, such as rights of indigenous peoples and conversion of forest into plantations, are so relevant for sustainable forestry that they should get more weight in the judgement.

The Netherlands is a large importer of timber from Malaysia, which is especially used for windows and doors. The Dutch government’s timber procurement policy prescribes 100% sustainable timber from this year on. Sustainable timber has to be produced under a certification scheme that is conform the Dutch sustainability criteria for timber. It is now expected that the Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment, Mr. Joop Atsma, will decide to exclude MTCS from this procurement policy. NCIV hopes that this will then be an incentive for the MTCS to recognise and respect the rights of indigenous peoples, not just on paper, but also in practice.

About NCIV

Since 1969, NCIV is an NGO that supports the promotion, recognition and protection of indigenous peoples' rights. NCIV brings the issues and views of indigenous peoples to the attention of the Dutch government, civil society, business and science and works to encourage them to make a positive contribution to improving the situation of indigenous peoples at national and international levels.