The operating environment and challenges of the Finnish forest industry has undergone significant changes in recent years. In response to that, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation (FFIF) has renewed its strategy and tasks as well as restructured its organisation. In addition to labour market issues, the FIFF will focus on competitiveness, R&D and innovation as well as on sustainable development and resources.
“Our forest industry cannot build a future only on its traditional competitive advantages. The central challenges due to the changes in markets and operating environment are the strengthening of competitiveness and renewal of the industry. In intensified global competition our efforts must be focused especially on issues that have a significant impact on the ability of companies to operate and invest in Finland and Europe,” says Anne Brunila, President of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
“From the point of view of the forest industry, the price and availability of energy, bioenergy and emissions trading have become questions of particular importance. International and EU-level decisions on energy, climate and environment policy have considerable impact on the competitiveness of the industry. These decisions are very much interrelated, which means that we need to assess the impact of these policies in a more comprehensive way than before. This calls for stronger lobbying and competence,” Brunila says.
“The new organisation will also strengthen lobbying efforts on issues related especially to the wood products industry and wood construction. As future success and competitiveness require substantial investment in research, product development and innovation, the FIFF must be an active participant in these areas. The establishment of a centre of excellence for the forest cluster that builds on a common vision and on the national research agenda is an example of an important new initiative that affects the entire sector,” says Brunila.
Labour market strategy
The objective of the labour market strategy is to achieve collective labour agreements that improve competitiveness and productivity. Important tasks are also the promotion of health and safety at work and the availability of competent employees and high-quality training for the needs of working life.
The labour market unit will be headed by Arto Tähtinen, LL.M., up to 31.1.2007. He will retire according to his agreement later in 2007. From the beginning of February 2007, the labour market unit will be headed by Jari Forss, LL.M. The unit’s four groups concentrate on collective labour agreements in the paper and wood products industry and forestry sector, workplace wellbeing as well as training and competence.
Competitiveness and innovation strategy
The objective of the Federation’s competitiveness and innovation strategy is to ensure Finland’s competitiveness as a business and innovation environment for the paper and wood products industry.
The corresponding business and innovation environment unit is headed by Pertti Laine, M.Sc. (Eng). The unit comprises three groups, which focus on the functioning of the markets, research and development as well as the competitiveness of the forest industry and the main business sectors. The unit is also responsible for lobbying for wood construction and the wood products industry.
The main goals of sustainable development activities of the FFIF are the implementation of efficient and competitive energy and climate policies, promotion of sustainable forest management and forest certification as well as competitive advantages based on the sustainable use of renewable natural resources.
Sustainable development and resources unit will be headed by Anders Portin M.Sc.(For). He will join the FFIF at the beginning of October 2006. Anders Portin is currently the head of international forestry and climate issues at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland. The newunit comprises three groups: energy and infrastructure, resources and environment, and sustainable forestry.
In sustainable forestry, one of the key issues is forest certification. Finnish forest industry is committed to promote sustainable forest management and forest certification. About 96 percent of Finland’s commercial forests have been certified in accordance with FFCS, which is approved by PEFC. Therefore, Finnish forest industry will promote also PEFC as one of the most common certification systems. For the forest industry, certification is a part of normal quality control and responsible corporate conduct. Forest owners and industry need several credible certification alternatives suitable to varying conditions around the world.
The EU-level coordination of lobbying efforts is the responsibility of Riku Eksymä, LL.M.; Anneli Kotonen, M.Sc. (Econ.), is in charge of Russian affairs. Helena Aatinen, M.Sc. (Econ.), heads the communications department and Anu Karessuo, M.Sc., is in charge of the information and administration services section.
President Anne Brunila, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 (0)9 132 66 00