MONTREAL, — Alcan Inc. and the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) have awarded the first-ever Alcan Prize for Sustainability to the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC will receive a $1 million cash prize.

"This prize underscores Alcan's commitment to sustainability in its operations and the deep belief that the international goal of sustainable development is best served when all sectors -- businesses, NGOs, and governments -- work together," said Travis Engen, president and CEO of Alcan Inc. "It is very exciting for all of us at Alcan to see our idea for the Alcan Prize become a reality with the selection of its inaugural winner. We congratulate the FSC for its accomplishments in promoting responsible management of the world's forests, and have a sincere hope that adding the first Alcan Prize for Sustainability to its funding will enable even greater achievements in the future," he added.

Robert Davies, CEO of the IBLF, added, "In our view, the FSC exemplifies an environmental and social NGO at the centre of an exceptional and innovative partnership among business, the public sector, and civil society to raise business standards and have a practical impact on the pressing challenge of economic, environmental and social sustainability in forestry."

The FSC, with an International Centre based in Bonn, Germany, national initiatives in 34 countries and members in 73 countries, has as its core program the development of standards for responsible forest management through inclusive, consultative processes. These standards are based on global principles and criteria promoting environmentally appropriate, socially responsible and economically viable management of the world's forests. FSC standards are implemented through a rigorous and credible forest certification system and recognized in the market through a distinctive trademark and labeling system.

FSC standards, its certification program and trademark system, are endorsed and supported by leading environmental organizations, community and social groups, unions and indigenous peoples' organizations as well as retailers, forest product companies and forest management companies. Its support base includes large and small organizations and companies in the global economic "south" and "north."

"This award recognizes the outstanding contribution many people have made over more than a decade to realize the vision of the Rio Earth Summit and create a model to demonstrate that the ideals of sustainability can be implemented on the ground," said Heiko Liedeker, FSC executive director. "Growing participation in the FSC system in recent years is demonstrating that this model is successful in bringing together diverse interests to create sustainable outcomes. The FSC proves that participation works. There is still much to be done. This prize will assist the FSC transition to its second decade and maintain the momentum toward responsible management of the world's forests," he added.

Alcan created the Alcan Prize for Sustainability in January 2004 to recognize outstanding contributions to the goal of economic, environmental, and social sustainability by not-for-profit, non-governmental, and civil society organizations.
Alcan partnered with the IBLF, which manages the application and selection process, to ensure the credibility and objectivity of the Prize. Alcan does not have a voice on the assessment or adjudication panels. In reviewing the 488 submissions received from 79 countries in 2004, the IBLF coordinated assessment panels in the U.K., Poland, the Philippines, and Canada. A short list of 12 candidates, announced at the Conférence de Montréal in June, was then reviewed in depth by a panel of internationally renowned experts in sustainability issues.

In selecting this year's winner, the Adjudication Panel said, "The FSC has pioneered an innovative, market-based approach to responsible forest management by linking forest management to the market through certification and product labeling. In doing so, it has created partnerships through a value chain that includes producers, retailers, and consumers. This ambitious sustainability model works through strong partnerships with a range of stakeholders around the world."

In addition to awarding the Alcan Prize for Sustainability, Alcan also awarded Bursaries to a number of short-listed candidates, as recommended by the Adjudication Panel. Worth US$15,000 each, these scholarships are offered to a suitably qualified senior member of staff to participate in the one-year, part-time Postgraduate Certificate in Cross Sector Partnership accredited by the University of Cambridge. Alcan Bursary winners are:
  • ApproTEC, U.S.
  • Comunidad Indígena de Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro, Mexico
  • Friends of the Earth, Ghana
  • FUNEDESIN, Ecuador
  • Global Action Plan, U.K.
  • Social Change Assistance Trust, South Africa
The FSC and the six Bursary winners will be honored at a gala evening in Davos, Switzerland on January 28, 2005.