Environmental and human rights groups in the Netherlands are welcoming the Dutch government’s rejection of the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) for failure to meet minimal accepted sustainability principles.
The ruling from the Ministry of Environment found that the MTCS fails to recognize or uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples and certifies timber from the wholesale conversion of natural rainforests into plantations. The importance of this ruling cannot be overstated. The Netherlands is a major market for the unsustainable Malaysian tropical timber trade. The ruling closes a significant portion of the Dutch market to MTCS-labeled products and sends a clear message to other markets to avoid the scheme.
The Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme is an example of the Malaysian government’s preferred approach to “sustainability” — create a bogus certification scheme, wage an expensive PR campaign in Western markets to promote it, and continue with business as usual at home. Brilliant.
The newest Malaysian example: a recently announced “sustainable” certification scheme for the Malaysian palm oil sector, Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil. Like its tropical timber cousin, the palm oil certification scheme is designed to rubber stamp widespread deforestation and Indigenous rights violations by Malaysian palm oil producers. As our Malaysian ally, Andrew Ng, pointed out in an earlier blog post, given Malaysia’s track record with its national timber certification scheme, its new “sustainable” palm oil certification scheme deserves to be rejected by international markets as well.