Forestry Group’s Focus: a Sustainable Future for All Communities

Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s 2021 annual conference, held virtually, doubles the number of attendees as organization commits to new diversity, equity, and inclusion policy.

Author: Casey Gale       

Meetings We Like

2021 SFI Annual Conference
When: May 12–14, 2021
Where: Virtual
Attendees: 600+

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative awards certifications in forestry management to forests with exceptional conservation value. (Courtesy SFI)

Editor’s note: Renowned anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall has said of the climate crisis, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” With that in mind, we are dedicating the November/December edition of Convene fully — our first single-topic issue — to the climate crisis, and what the business events industry is doing to address this global challenge. Find stories from the Climate Issue here, and read our cover story, “A ‘Watershed Moment’ for Events — and the World.”

An independent, nonprofit organization, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) mission is to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration. In addition to working with the forest sector, SFI engages educators, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, local communities, Indigenous peoples, government officials, and more to advance its goals of making sustainability changes through standards — particularly regarding responsible forestry purchasing and product certification standards — and conservation, community, and education.

SFI’s annual conference is the place for those ready to “engage in discussions with some of the foremost thought leaders in the forest and conservation sector,” Nadine Block, senior vice president, community and government relations, told Convene.

The event focuses on learning and discussion opportunities surrounding the challenges facing people and planet, while also walking the walk by offsetting its own carbon emissions; using certified paper and wood products, such as paper coffee cups, wooden stir sticks, and paper hotel key cards; reducing and often eliminating the use of single-use plastics; and giving back to the local community. Those community service events typically involve working with local shelters, food banks, and nonprofits to donate unused food.

SFI’s in-person conference usually attracts 300 attendees, but in 2021, its virtual event hosted nearly 600 participants, according to Block. “The COVID-19 pandemic forced us, along with many other event organizers, to consider new ways to gather our participants around key environmental issues,” Block said.

Participants included Fortune 500 company CEOs as well as students, and the event covered the importance of urban forests, conservation, collaboration, and species recovery; forest solutions for supply chains and a circular economy; and meeting the climate challenge through managed forests and forest products.

Why We Like It

SFI recognizes the importance of having a diverse group of voices participating in conversations around sustainability. “We are committed to diverse perspectives, because we know it enhances the dialogue and brings true change and growth,” Block said. The organization has a new diversity, equity, and inclusion policy “to help guide our commitment to creating a space for all communities to fully and meaningfully participate in the journey toward a sustainable future.”

SFI Kathy Abusow

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s President and CEO Kathy Abusow addresses the 2018 annual meeting. This year the event went virtual. (Courtesy SFI)

Casey Gale is associate editor of Convene.

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