By: The Working Forest Staff
TOKYO/SAN FRANCISCO – As key decision-makers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics met on March 29th JST, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) delivered over 110,000 signatures to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities, raising concerns about the use of rainforest wood and human rights violations associated with the construction of Olympic facilities, and calling for “Zero Rainforest Destruction for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
The petitions were initiated by RAN and CREDO Action in response to revelations that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities have been procuring large volumes of environmentally and socially high-risk tropical timber from Indonesia and Malaysia for the construction of the Olympics facilities, including the New National Stadium. (Note 1)
The petitions call on the IOC and Tokyo Olympic Authorities to ensure the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ends the use of rainforest wood, respects the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, and adopts robust sourcing requirements for products that have a high risk of driving deforestation and human rights violations. The petitions reiterate demands made by over 40 NGOs since December 2016 and a previous petition originated in coordination with Indigenous community leaders from Sarawak that was signed by over 140,000 people and delivered to Japanese embassies in May 2017. (Note 2)
Indonesia and Malaysia are home to many Indigenous communities and have some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. However, both countries are experiencing some of the fastest rates of deforestation on earth due to logging and plantation development for oil palm and pulp and paper. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of tropical plywood, importing about 2 million cubic meters of plywood from Indonesia and Malaysia in 2016 alone.
In February 2018, Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities confirmed NGO concerns when they admitted that more than 87% of the concrete formwork plywood used for construction of the New National Stadium was derived from Indonesia and Malaysia. NGO investigations conducted in 2017 and 2018 found that several venues, including the New National Stadium, sourced tropical wood from a company previously linked to illegal logging, rainforest destruction, and human rights violations in Sarawak, Malaysia. (Note 3)
Rainforest Action Network’s Senior Campaigner on Responsible Finance Hana Heineken said, “Tokyo 2020’s sourcing of wood from some of the most ecologically diverse and threatened rainforests in the world is a clear breach of their commitment to host a sustainable Olympics. We are calling on the IOC and Tokyo 2020 authorities to improve their procurement standards, respect human rights and stop destroying these irreplaceable rainforests.”
On March 16th, Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities disclosed the drafts of the sourcing codes for palm oil and paper, and they are currently soliciting public comment until March 30th (Note 4). According to RAN, rather than requiring robust due diligence and setting clear exclusion criteria, both codes propose to rely on significantly weak certification standards, including PEFC for paper products and MSPO and ISPO for palm oil. Without a substantial strengthening of these codes, the petitioning groups say Tokyo 2020 risks continuing its association with rainforest destruction and human rights abuses.