The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is one of the world’s leading forces for good in the push for a more sustainable forestry sector. Founded over 20 years ago by independent foresters, their mission is to increase the adoption of sustainable forest management across the world, to ensure that certified chains of custody are reliably free of unsustainable or illegally harvested timber, and to empower small-scale landowners to adopt the sustainable practices that have in the past been the nearly-exclusive domain of large corporate interests.
Fourdozen is proud to have a longstanding relationship with PEFC, creating and implementing international campaigns for their furniture, sustainable green rubber, textiles and packaging task forces. This work, including Forests are Home and Responsible Packaging, has also been some of our most creatively rewarding—allowing us to deploy art in the service of protecting forests. What better dream is there for a creative marketing agency than that?
Given this background and warm working relationship, Fourdozen jumped at the opportunity to once again collaborate with PEFC, this time on their Forestry for Trade (FOR-TRADE) project. We were particularly excited when we realized that this project would allow realize a long standing dream—actually getting out into the field with PEFC experts from across the region, in the shade of the trees we were all seeking to protect. Working in the comfort of our offices in Hanoi and Saigon is great, but sometimes you want to get your shoes, camera bags and kit nice and dusty.
A departure from our traditional campaign support for PEFC, the FOR-TRADE project included numerous operational deliverables for the organization itself. While we have traditionally worked to explain PEFC’s activities to the public at large, this time we would be making video and publications products for a much narrower and more specific audience of experts. While it is a thrill to become even more embedded in an organization that we believe in, this comes with challenges—we would need to be masters of this information, from the accreditation process for a 3rd party certification to an understanding of PEFC’s complex due diligence system.
Our years of work with PEFC, specifically on the PEFC is Here campaign for Sustainable Rubber, laid the groundwork for this, and helped us prepare for our trip to the field. Fourdozen would be accompanying PEFC national member delegations from across the Asia Pacific on a study tour in rural southern Vietnam. Stops included numerous research plantations for valuable tropical hardwoods like eucalyptus and acacia, as well as natural rubber plantations and processing plants. The trip culminated in a conference in Ho Chi Minh City, at which national members could exchange lessons learned, interact directly with host country officials, and further synchronize their approaches to sustainable forest management across the region. Forests, after all, know no borders, so any coherent protection scheme must also traverse those borders.
For Fourdozen, this trip was not only an opportunity to deepen our understanding of PEFC’s work by embedding ourselves in the study tour, but also to get access to PEFC team members from across the region. Over the course of the tour we conducted and filmed over 20 interviews with foresters from Australia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia, including with Siti Syaliza, PEFC’s new Deputy Secretary General and COO. We also got the valuable opportunity to capture footage that is available nowhere else, such as at a remote rubber plant at the moment when the raw latex arrives from the morning harvest, and is poured, separated, processed and packaged.
At the conference that followed, Fourdozen served not only a documentary role, but also as participants, giving remarks to the gathered members and dignitaries, and working with the country groups during breakout sessions. The result was a virtuous circle of improved capacity—both ours to understand the complex work conducted by PEFC, and of the national members to more effectively tell their own stories and persuade audiences of donors and experts as to why they matter.
The outcome of this field work was a series of in-depth videos, built on the extensive footage we captured among the trees and our interviews with experts, that would go on to form the core of an impact analysis conducted by PEFC and designed by Fourdozen. But for our team, an equally meaningful outcome was a reminder of how essential this work is, and that with collaboration across borders, no task is too hard or complex to be accomplished.