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Welcome to our special forest issue


The WWF and IKEA partnership continues to mark its 10th anniversary all of this year through. We started in April by highlighting the partnership’s work to spread more sustainable cotton farming practices. This time, the newsletter has a special focus on our work with forest, and contains updates from several joint projects in Europe and Asia as well as interviews on responsible forestry with key people from both organisations.

Forest issues have never been more important than today. A third of Earth’s land area is covered with forests, representing vast biological diversity and invaluable resources to mankind.  But every year, more than 30 million acres of natural forest are destroyed to meet the growing global demand for wood and agricultural products. Responsible forest management can help counteract some of the most severe threats, such as forest degradation and illegal logging.

“Wood is a very important raw material for IKEA. We want wood from well-managed sources and we want to use our demand for wood to help drive improvements in forest management. Ultimately, we want to leave a positive footprint beyond the forest areas where we operate – we call this objective ‘Forest Positive’. Working in partnership with WWF and others over the last 10 years, we have helped certify around 30 million hectares of forest to FSC standards. We are determined to continue this work, and wish to see our partnerships contribute to at least an additional 15 million hectares of FSC certification in the coming five years, bringing even more FSC wood onto the market. I think the opportunity is tremendously exciting,” says Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA.

“IKEA serves as a good example of how a multinational company can use its size to influence the market and contribute to finding workable solutions to often very complex issues. The partnership rests on our mutual commitment to promoting responsible forest management to secure forest values for both present and future needs,” says Håkan Wirtén, CEO at WWF in Sweden.

The forest partnership started in 2002 with five projects spanning seven countries. It now covers 13 joint projects in 11 countries. 

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WWF and IKEA discuss the partnership’s future

WWF and IKEA have started discussions around a possible fifth three-year agreement to cooperate on forestry issues and other potential areas of mutual interest. The current phase four agreement ends in June 2014.

“Great conservation impacts have been achieved and looking ahead WWF wants to take the partnership to an even higher level. IKEA has their agenda and we have ours, but we want to meet where our interests overlap. We would like to see us as the challenging partner,” says Marcus Albers, Manager Corporate Partnerships WWF Sweden.

“We are pleased with the way the current forest projects are going, and look forward to really strong proposals for phase five,” says Simon Henzell-Thomas, IKEA Sustainability Policy & Partnerships Manager.


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IKEA and WWF dismiss idea that partnership is greenwashing

Large multinational companies that partner with NGOs in the field of social and environmental responsibility risk being accused of greenwashing, while NGOs have to be careful about publically endorsing their corporate partners or jeopardize its independence reputation. Or as one UK newspaper put it a couple of years back: ‘IKEA gives cash and a few environmental initiatives, while WWF gives green kudos and some environmental advice.’

But both WWF and IKEA stand tall when winds blow cold, convinced that the partnership has positive impact on people and the planet, not least through their carefully planned and monitored joint forest projects.

“If you really want conservation to work, you need to recognise that businesses have a huge impact and are key to influencing change in the market. We need to work with them to change their practices and this is a very successful way to protect conservation values. It’s a pragmatic solution to finding ways to work responsibly with forests that we both care about, “says George White, Head of the WWF initiative Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN).

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Simply focusing on legality issues will diminish sustainability perspective

The US Lacey Act, the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill represent major milestones in recent years’ international efforts to curb illegal logging, and the partnership works actively to support implementation and enforcement. At the same time, IKEA and WWF worry that many companies may be tempted to focus single-mindedly on the legality of its timber products, and lose sight of other sustainability aspects.

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Growing share of FSC certified wood in the IKEA range

Wood is one of the most important raw materials for IKEA and the company is making good progress towards its 2017 goal to source 50% of the wood used in the range from “preferred sources”; FSC certified wood or recycled wood. At the end of April 2013, the share of certified wood in the IKEA range had reached 31.2% %, up from 22.6% at the end of August 2012.

“If our total wood consumption lands at 14 million cubic metres round wood equivalent (RWE) we should have sourced more than four million cubic metres of FSC certified wood. It’s  safe to say that IKEA now is one of the retailers with the largest FSC volume in the world,” says Anders Hildeman, adding that IKEA uses almost 1% of all wood used commercially around the world.

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New members in the WWF and IKEA Forest Partnership Steering Group

The WWF and IKEA Forest Partnership Steering Group recently welcomed two IKEA co-workers as new members. Christina Niemelä Ström works as Business Area Manager, Home organisation storage and Outdoor at IKEA of Sweden, and Peter Becker as Material Leader, Purchase Development Solid wood at IKEA of Sweden.

”To see what IKEA and WWF have done and can do together is great; we can contribute with our collective forestry competence and know-how from the field to really make things happen in reality.  The work is done on different levels from policy building to stopping illegal logging on site and assuring well managed forests with FSC certifications.  We make a real difference. says new member of WWF and IKEA Forest Partnership Steering Group Christina Niemelä-Ström who works as Business Area manager IKEA of Sweden.

“It’s great that we get more business competence into the group. It’s healthy to get a reality check to see what the business case is in the projects we do, and it helps put our work on IKEA’s business agenda – not just the sustainability agenda,” says Rod Taylor, WWF Forest Director.

WWF India invites IKEA to join expert panel on Credible Forest Certification

WWF India’s conference on “Relevance of Credible Forest Certification in Enhancing Market Access” is due to take place on September 24 in New Dehli. IKEA global forest manager Anders Hildeman and Mikhail Tarasov, forestry manager Greater China have been invited be part of an expert panel to talk about IKEAs involvement in forestry issues and achievements through the partnership with WWF.

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Better Cotton Harvest Report 2012 available at the end of the month

At the end of the month, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) will be releasing its annual report with 2012 harvest data, now named the 'Better Cotton Harvest Report' to better reflect the cotton growing and harvesting seasons season rather than the calendar year. It is complete with useful graphics to show sowing and harvesting months in each country where Better Cotton is grown. Other highlights include:

  • an in depth update on each country producing Better Cotton
  • more substantial coverage of BCI's Decent Work principles and the qualitative impact which Better Cotton is having in the field
  • result indicators from China's first Better Cotton harvest an introduction from outgoing CEO Lise Melvin, as she hands over to Patrick Laine

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Partnership releases cotton project report and cotton movie

A report on the partnership’s joint cotton projects in India and Pakistan was released in the beginning of June. It covers developments since the start in 2005, and can be used as a resource to anyone wanting to learn more about the journey to make conventional cotton cultivation more sustainable.

In addition, a 6 ½ minute film, “IKEA and Cotton”, was launched on YouTube in May. It presents the life course of cotton – from seed to final product in the store and the work being done to improve social and environmental impacts in cotton-growing communities through the partnership, as well as through BCI and IKEA Foundation.

Read the report here
Watch the film here

Inspiring stories from the cotton fields in Pakistan

In Pakistan alone, around 40,000 farmers now use more sustainable farming practices thanks to WWF and IKEA. Many of them see life-changing results and have great stories to tell – like Muhammat Ramzan, who now can afford to send his children to school.

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Restaurant herb gardens part of Italian collaboration on sustainable food

The very first herb garden opened in the restaurant of the Anagnina store in Rome in May ahead of a planned national roll-out in March 2014. The herbs will be used in the kitchen, and the garden gives opportunities to engage children and families in various activities while also promoting IKEA gardening products. The initiative is part of the WWF IKEA collaboration on sustainable food in Italy.

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Better Cotton campaign raise awareness and money

In the Netherlands, the partnership has raised awareness of Better Cotton in a recent campaign. Using in-store advertisements, direct mail to IKEA Family members, website communication and social media, IKEA and WWF told the story about how cotton can be grown in a more sustainable way and why this is so important. IKEA had agreed to donate €1 to WWF Netherlands for each Facebook or Twitter “share”, but in the end IKEA doubled the amount and WWF received a total of €25,000 to support its activities.

IKEA co-workers raise nearly £9,000
by joining WWF UK marathon team

Four IKEA co-workers from the UK and Ireland raised nearly £9,000, including £4,000 of match funding from IKEA, by running the Virgin London Marathon on April 21st to celebrate the partnership’s 10th anniversary and help raise funds for WWF’s conservation work. This means that they, as a team, surpassed their fundraising target of £2,000 each. Congratulations to Tony Pearson, Kyle Binks, Holly Stuart and Cormac McGann! The intended fifth member of the team, Mike Ward, was forced to withdraw from the marathon due to an injury during training.

Click on each runner's name to see their individual results:
Tony Pearson       Kyle Binks      Holly Stuart      Cormac McGann

Norway makes Tealight Hunt film in English following CSR award nomination

IKEA and WWF Norway’s popular Tealight Hunt competition was nominated for a national CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) award earlier this year – and although the award eventually went to Coca-Cola Norway, the nomination inspired the partnership to produce an English speaking film about the successful campaign.

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Portuguese public to learn more about the partnership

WWF and IKEA in Portugal have decided to raise public awareness of the partnership over a whole year, starting in October 2013. Communication will be built around the partnership while also spreading information about energy efficiency and climate smart products.

The national partnership has also agreed to start a fundraising activity connected to Earth Hour 2014, when WWF will benefit from IKEA sales of candles. During Environmental Day in June 2014, WWF will be present in the Portuguese stores to recruit new members and promote its own products.

IKEA supports WWF Singapore’s new Eco-Schools programme

Singapore, 24 April 2013 – The two IKEA stores in Singapore is supporting WWFs Eco-Schools Programme, an international environmental education and certification programme launched in April to let students experience active citizenship and help them make environmental sustainability an integral part of school life. IKEA is donating $200,000 over two years from the cost savings of eliminating disposable plastic bags in the stores.

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