Technical Updates

Friday, 27 October 2017
2017 FSC General Assembly Reaffirms Global Strategy

2017 FSC General Assembly (© FSC GD)© FSC GD

October 27, 2017

The 2017 FSC General Assembly convened hundreds of FSC members from more than 80 countries in Vancouver earlier this month to tackle some of the biggest opportunities and challenges facing forests in North America and around the world. The General Assembly is held once every three years in a different global venue. The gathering is FSC’s top decision-making authority and is central to our governance, and the diverse perspectives represented are key to FSC’s integrity and credibility in the marketplace.

This General Assembly took place at an important moment in FSC’s development as we implement our prior-established global strategic plan. While member leadership remains important – from serving on the board of directors to proposing and voting on motions – the 2017 General Assembly largely affirmed and validated this plan.

Unique among forest certification systems, FSC is governed democratically by its members, who are organized into economic, social and environmental chambers. Each chamber has equal authority, and members can propose motions about any part of the FSC system – from requirements in our forest management standard to uses of FSC trademarks. To be approved, a motion requires majority support from all three chambers and at least two-thirds of the combined overall vote.

Going into the 2017 FSC General Assembly, 61 motions were proposed for consideration. During the first part of the week in Vancouver, many of these motions were combined or withdrawn. Ultimately, members voted on 35 motions, passing 15.

Review the full array of motions ultimately voted on.

Following below is a high-level summary by FSC-US staff of some of the more significant motions that were passed:

Motion 7: Addressing past conversion through restoration as a requirement for certification of plantations that have converted natural forest areas since 1994.This motion pertains mainly to countries in tropical regions, notably Indonesia. FSC will now have stronger means to engage, serving as a tool to help compensate people and communities impacted by forest conversion and to restore forests as a condition of FSC certification.
Motion 34: Regional assessments of the impacts of the implementation of Intact Forest Landscapes (Motion 65 from the 2014 FSC General Assembly). Requires an assessment of the concept of Intact Forest Landscapes at a regional scale, considering economic, social and environmental impacts in the short and long term. The purpose is to help avoid unintended consequences as FSC moves to implement protections for Intact Forest Landscapes in forest management standards.
Motion 46: FSC New Approaches program as a high-level priority for advancing smallholder and community certification. Expresses very strong support from the membership for finding new ways to engage family woodland owners and community forests as a top priority for FSC, as described in the global strategic plan.
Motion 56: Ensuring that the Controlled Wood system is functional and credible until the strategy is in place. Directs FSC to continue implementing the revised Controlled Wood standard and completing the strategy, while also emphasizing the need for data, communications, and transparency in the system. Sunsets the use of company risk assessments beginning January 1, 2019, a year later than originally proposed.
Motion 71: FSC supports Indigenous Cultural Landscapes. Sends a clear message from the membership to the FSC International Board of Directors and Secretariat about the importance of prioritizing Indigenous Cultural Landscapes and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

In addition to the motions that were passed by the membership, it is worth noting one that did not – Motion 50: Strengthening social clauses within Chain of Custody. This motion was voted down due in large part to the fact that the FSC International Board of Directors recently approved a new set of criteria and indicators based on the principles of International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions. The product of several years of exhaustive negotiations, this approved approach respects the rights of workers while also recognizing that some countries – notably Brazil, China, United States and Canada – have not ratified all relevant ILO Conventions.

Overall, the FSC General Assembly remains one of the most significant and transformative events held by a non-governmental organization. Setting policy that impacts 33,000 companies and 500 million acres of forestland around the world, the 2017 FSC General Assembly reaffirmed the direction of the organization – as set in our global strategic plan – and offered important validation and refinement from our members.

For more information about the 2017 FSC General Assembly, including news articles about specific side meetings, plenary sessions and motions, visit

If you have questions about specific motions and their implications for FSC in the United States, please email Amy Clark Eagle, Director of Science and Certification for FSC US (