Example: Paper Initiative

The Project
Principles & Checklist
Ongoing Work
Scientific Research

Your Input


Towards a Sustainable Paper Cycle

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) / International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)


To be amended - Information as of Feb 19, 2001


ISSUES: the paper cycle; forestry practices, waste management


GOALS: IIED in association with WBCSD undertook an independent assessment of the world’s paper industry, examining the sectors lifecycle impacts and prospects for sustainability


PARTICIPATING STAKEHOLDERS: WBCSD; IIED; private sector forestry and paper companies; environmental NGOs; academic sector, research institutions, government and international agencies


TIME FRAME: Research leading to publication of report, ‘Towards a Sustainable Paper Cycle’ June 1996 and further activities


MSP CONTACT DETAILS; URL: www.iied.org  and  www.wbcsd.org



Type: Informing the debate but drawing on stakeholder consultations

Level: Global


Procedural Aspects:

Designing the MSP

Designed in a negotiation between IIED and WBCSD. Multi-stakeholder advisory group (but which turned out to have relatively little input).

Project sponsor task force was composed mainly of industry representatives and had more input to the study.

Reports were distributed widely to a range of stakeholders for written comment.

Also two regional multi-stakeholder workshops held in Asia and Latin America during the study and one NGO consultation in London. 

Several multi-stakeholder workshops happened after the study was completed to discuss findings.


Identifying the issues to be addressed in an MSP

Issues were identified by IIED primarily but drawing on suggestions from WBCSD, the project task force, advisory group, and arising from regional workshops and NGO consultations.

At the Earth Summit 1992 the WBCSD set out how industry might move into a more sensitive relationship with the environment. Later it was agreed that a sector example was required showing how the transition process might move things towards sustainability. The paper industry challenged IIED to conduct a world-wide review of their social and environmental performance. Completed in 1996. Study demonstrates that the idea of finding global solutions to a set of diverse local problems won’t work (different trade-offs etc).


Identifying relevant stakeholders

Stakeholders identified by WBCSD and IIED but drawing on suggestions made by organisations and individuals in different regions.


Identifying MSP participants


Setting the goals of an MSP

Goals were set by WBCSD and IIED but probably became less ambitious in the course of the study – emphasis shifted from assessment to “informing the debate” and “providing raw material for dialogue”.

“The issues of sustainable forestry require open and transparent co-operation in new ways by all stakeholders (…) Therefore the primary aim of this project is to establish a factual base upon which to begin a constructive dialogue process with stakeholders in broader forest issues" (Bjorn Stigson, President WBCSD at www.wbcsd.org).


Setting the agenda


Setting the time-table

Set by the WBCSD but extension of deadlines negotiated by IIED in view of the time taken for consultation and report delays.


Preparatory process

Widespread consultation process with regional workshops, specialist meetings, task forces, numerous corresponding partners and an advisory group.

The final study also drew on the findings of 20 sub-studies. An international group of senior advisers reviewed the research to ensure its independence.


Communication process

Mixture of communication channels used - more than 500 stakeholder groups were contacted by IIED during the course of the study.


Decision-making process: procedures of agreement


Implementation process


Closing the MSP

No closure as such – the hope was that the report would facilitate and encourage further dialogue at different levels.


Structural Aspects:

Structures / institutions of the MSP & Facilitation




WBCSD reported on Task Force and Advisory Group meetings but these were distributed only to participants. IIED reported on  the regional workshops and NGO consultations

Main report published by IIED with WBCSD.

Numerous sub-studies published by IIED several months before and after the publication of the main report.


Relating to not-participating stakeholders

No formal mechanism relating to not-participating stakeholders but if they expressed interest in seeing and commenting on the report they were included on the distribution list.


Relating to the general public

The final report was distributed widely and also marketed by WBCSD and IIED.  But otherwise little opportunity for the general public to feed in or comment.

The process attracted attention from environmentalists as it seemed to be used by some stakeholders to support incineration rather than paper recycling.


Linkage into official decision-making process

Very little linkage.



Mixture of donor (35-40%) and industry funding (60-65%) across 5 continents.  Fundraising was done jointly by WBCSD and IIED with the latter concentrating more on the donor funding but participating in presentations to potential industry sponsors.

It is believed that the non-industry funding helped enormously in maintaining the credibility of the study as an independent objective analysis.


Additional Information

This initial project served as a model for the other WBCSD projects now underway (including the Minerals, Mining and Sustainable Development project with IIED involvement).


Contact Minu Hemmati and Felix Dodds for further information.