The forest industry brings to market ecologically sustainable products that are made from renewable and recyclable raw materials and that help reduce individuals’ and societies’ dependence on dwindling natural resources. Responsibility is taken into consideration from the forest to production and from the transport of end products to their recycling. In 2013, the forest industry published its joint environmental and responsibility commitments for 2020. The implementation of these commitments has progressed well.
Below is a description of how the forest industry’s operations as a whole promote the realisation of several of the UN’s goals.
UN SDG Forest industry action to help realisation of SDG
SDG 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Packaging made from renewable and recyclable natural resources is an important part of a functional food chain. Packaging helps protect products throughout the delivery chain. With the help of products made from renewable natural resources, we can also reduce food waste in a sustainable fashion.
SDG 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The forest industry uses water efficiently and continually reduces wastewater load. The forest industry has invested in low-emissions technology. These days, one litre of water circulates within a mill up to 15 times. The sector uses 0.2 per cent of available water resources in Finland. After use and treatment, the water is returned to the natural cycle. Water circulates constantly in nature. Forests and a sustainable forest industry play an important role in this water cycle.
SDG 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
The forest industry plays a central role in achieving renewable energy and energy efficiency goals. Two thirds of Finland’s renewable energy is tied to the forest industry. Renewable energy accounts for 84 per cent of the Finnish forest industry’s own energy production. The forest industry is continually improving the energy efficiency of its processes.
SDG 8. Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
In Finland, the forest industry employs 42,000 people directly and 150,000 people indirectly. The forest industry is Finland’s biggest export industry. In 2016 the value of the sector’s exports totalled EUR 11.4 billion. The forest industry accounts for 22 per cent of Finland’s exports. Realising wellbeing at work is a central part of forest industry companies’ operations. Special focus is on preventing occupational accidents and on maintaining work capacity.
SDG 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
The forest industry is transforming at a fast clip. New business is being developed alongside existing bioeconomy concepts with innovative sustainable development solutions. The forest industry invests in resource efficiency, which brings significant added value. Less than 0.3 per cent of raw materials that enter mills end up at landfill. The forest industry creates industrial symbioses with the help of local partnerships. The forest industry operates equally responsibly nationally and internationally and demands responsibility from its co-operation partners throughout the value chain.
SDG 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.
The forest industry and forest economy are significant employers across Finland. The forest sector offers an income and vitality to sparsely-populated areas also. Furthermore, mills produce renewable energy for society. Mills’ environmental affairs are well managed. By increasing wood construction, we can build sustainable human settlements. Wooden buildings store carbon dioxide throughout their life cycle.
SDG 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The forest industry offers ecologically sustainable products made from a renewable and recyclable raw material. Products made from renewable natural resources can replace products made from non-renewable natural resources. The forest industry’s wood raw material comes from sustainably managed forests. The forest industry boosts the circular economy.
SDG 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Sustainably managed forests are carbon sinks. Thanks to an active forest economy, forest growth has been speeding up for decades. By restoring and managing forests, we ensure that carbon dioxide continues to be stored in forests in the future as well. By boosting forest growth, we can both increase timber use as well as increase forests’ carbon storage. Carbon dioxide continues to be stored in finished forest industry products. The increasing use of wood in, for example, construction, increases the amount of carbon stored in buildings and reduces the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The forest industry’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions have dropped by almost 70 per cent per production tonne since 1990. The forest industry plays an important role on the road to a carbon neutral society, as the forest industry produces renewable energy both for its own use and for society in the form of district heating.
SDG 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.
The forest industry uses water responsibly and the water it uses is efficiently treated before it is returned to waterways. Impacts on waterways are continually monitored. The forest sector’s impacts on waterways are voluntarily reduced by, for example, following forest certification guidelines. The forest industry’s biodegradable products do not pollute the world’s seas.
SDG 15. Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
The forest industry promotes forest certification, nature management in commercial forests, and voluntary forest protection. Finnish forests are the most widely certified in the world. The forest industry’s forest environment programme aims to further improve the sector’s actions in forest environment issues as well as to increase active and open communications by 2020. As the wood-based bioeconomy grows, it is increasingly important to ensure that the various areas of sustainability are in balance.
SDG 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
The forest industry is an active player in responsibility forums nationally and internationally. With the help of broad stakeholder co-operation, the forest industry is building partnerships across the entire value chain. Research and development co-operation promotes innovations and transformation in the sector.