On July 5, United States was selected as a finalist for the Future Policy Award for measures passed in 2008 to curb international trade in illegally harvested timber products. The Future Policy Award, administered by the World Future Council, celebrates the world’s most exemplary national policies that strive to create better living conditions for current and future generations.
The Lacey Act, a 100-year-old law that has long been one of the most powerful tools for U.S. agencies fighting wildlife crime, was amended on May 22, 2008, by the U.S. Congress. The law now also bans commerce in illegally sourced plants and their derivatives such as timber and wood products.
The Council has indicated that the Lacey Act has been nominated for the Future Policy award because the United States is “the first country in the world to place an outright, criminally enforceable ban on the import of illegally harvested timber” and addresses illegal logging “both nationally and internationally from the demand side by requiring that importers of wood products and subsequent handlers in the supply chain exercise due care to ensure that wood in their possession is of legal origin. The Lacey Act amendments have forced importers to take responsibility for their wood products and have already produced positive results in increasing due diligence assessments and demand for certified wood products.”
Illegal logging and the international trade in illegal timber has been recognized as a major global problem causing environmental damage, costing producer countries billions of dollars in lost revenue, promoting corruption, undermining the rule of law and good governance, and contributing to the funding of armed conflict.
The Future Policy Award is granted by the World Future Council, an international policy research organization that provides decision makers with effective policy solutions. This year a jury will choose three policies that they believe best contribute to the conservation and sustainable development of forests. Twenty policies from sixteen countries were nominated and the United States joins five other countries on the list of finalists: Bhutan, The Gambia, Nepal, Rwanda, and Switzerland.
The three winners will be announced on September 21, 2011, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The announcement will be followed by an awards ceremony hosted by the World Future Council, the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat, the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Wildlife Conservation Society.