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).
Last year, IKEA came under fire from a group of environmental NGOs for allegedly logging intact and old growth forest in Russian Karelia. WWF was also criticised by the same group for being soft towards IKEA, and for supporting FSC certification.
“WWF consider the FSC-standard as the most credible forest certification scheme available today. IKEA is instrumental in helping us increase the FSC-certified forest areas around the world, particularly in Russia, and together we do a lot to prevent illegal logging and illegal trade. ” says Marcus Albers, Manager Corporate Partnerships WWF Sweden.
Simon Henzell Thomas, IKEA Sustainability Policy & Partnerships Manager feels that there is a mismatch between reality and perception of what IKEA does to protect the forest, and would like IKEA and WWF to get some credit for their work. “The quality of what we do is very high, but forestry is a complex issue and the good work we are doing is sometimes overshadowed.” he says.
George White is convinced that big international companies like IKEA have a crucial role to play in supporting conservation efforts and being part of the solution to today’s challenges:
“We have one of the world’s most responsible companies working extremely closely with us in a number of countries. The partnership’s impact goes way beyond the products that IKEA sources. It proves that the private sector not only works for themselves, but accepts that WWF has an agenda with its own priorities and that there is enough common ground to make it work.”
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