Groundbreaking 'One Good World ECOngress' Gives Impetus for Critical Wood Sourcing Issue in the Home Furnishings Industry

Jan 05, 2010, 14:19 ET from World Market Center Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ushering in a new era of environmental responsibility in the home furnishings industry, The Sustainable Furnishings Council and World Market Center Las Vegas, in cooperation with World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council and numerous other leading governmental, environmental, academic and trade organizations is launching the first cross-disciplinary ECOngress on legal and sustainable wood sourcing in the home furnishings industry. All Las Vegas Market participants are encouraged to attend all or part of the one-day event that will take place on January 31, the day prior to the opening day of the February Las Vegas Market. Registration is free and the event is scheduled from 10:45 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. in World Market Center's Building C-888.

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The event is geared to inform every point in the supply chain as to the importance of known legal origin and responsible forestry for wood products. Participants will learn about tools, solutions, and issues of vital importance given the impending next phase of Lacey Act declaration requirements that will be effective in April 2010. The Lacey Act is a U.S. law amended in 2008 that bans commerce in illegally sourced plants and their products, including wood and paper products. In April, furniture items will be included in Lacey declarations requirements reinforcing grounds for legal prosecution of entities importing, transporting, selling or purchasing products using illegally harvested or traded wood from the U.S. or abroad. Three separate plenary sessions will be held on Policy, Manufacturing and Marketing, each consisting of a series of brief presentations by speaker panelists followed by an in-depth moderated panel discussion focused on questions from the audience. Topics will cover policy changes, legislation and enforcement, engaging with suppliers, securing safe supply, manufacturing and retail concerns and ultimately how to make it comprehensible and compelling to the consumer.

ECOngress will mark the first time that such a broad array of constituencies has been assembled to address a sustainability concern in home furnishings. Major organizations represented include WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network, UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.S. Department of Justice, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Weyerhaeuser, Savannah College of Art & Design, Century Furniture, Oregon State, Williams-Sonoma, Architectural Digest and a noted ASID-LEED design practitioner. Major environmental organizations World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council and Tropical Forest Trust will also be participating and collaborating in planning for the event.

The sixteen speaker panelists feature some of the world's foremost experts and leaders on the issue, including Richard Somerville, a Coordinating Lead Author for the 2007 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in synthesizing tens of thousands of documents from credible scientific journals around the world; Linda Kramme, Manager of WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network-North America program; Elinor Colbourn, U.S. Department of Justice on Lacey prosecution; Ben Cashore, professor, Environmental Governance & Political Science, at Yale University's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies; and Christina Nicholson, Director of Sustainable Development for Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

"As the third biggest user of wood products, the furniture industry has a responsibility to take a leadership role in legal wood sourcing, and the ECOngress represents a groundbreaking step by bringing together every vital constituency for the very first time to show support, discuss challenges and share ideas," said Jeff Hiller, president of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. "Leadership is taking action while others wonder 'what if.' The goal of the ECOngress is to identify pragmatic solutions that are good for business and the planet."

The One Good World ECOngress comes just two months before the enforcement of the U.S. Lacey Act Amendment is extended to furniture. This U.S. policy change follows The Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade of the European Union (EU) encouraging businesses to adopt purchasing policies that exclude illegal timber and promoting sound public procurement policies through voluntary agreements, but the EU has also contemplated regulations to govern the import and trade of these items. A multi-industry conference organized by Rainforest in September 2009 in Shanghai, China was attended by over 300, further confirming the global scale of the legal wood issue.

"We have actually passed a point of no return in terms of environmental awareness, and although the future of the supply chain looks complicated to all of us, the ECOngress will help us move forward with a plan for sustainable growth, as opposed to leaving it to chance," said Robert Maricich, World Market Center Las Vegas' president and chief executive officer. "The interest in participating from environmental groups, academia and all parts of the furnishings supply chain has been remarkable for a trade-oriented event, confirming the vital importance of legal wood sourcing, the need for public discussion between all parties and the inspirational ability of responsible citizenship to transcend industry lines in working toward the common good."

The ECOngress is a component of World Market Center Las Vegas' new wide sweeping program One Good World launching at February Las Vegas Market that includes a sustainable products locator for market attendees, a digital newsletter as well as expanded education offerings featuring celebrity designers who speak about the importance of sustainability in their life and work and their role in SGC's new DESIGINGREEN "why not" consumer print ad.

"Knowledge is power but ignorance is no longer bliss," said Margaret Casey, World Market Center Las Vegas' director of programming. "We encourage all industry players, at every level, to put aside their individual fears and embrace the future in an informed and collective way. The ECOngress gives us a potent platform to do just that and demonstrates that this is an emerging issue not just for our industry but for humanity."

In addition to providing more conscious options to manufactures, retailers and consumers, World Market Center Las Vegas makes it a priority to make environmentally-conscious decisions in its environmentally own business operations, and advocates for the entire trade show industry to do so. World Market Center regularly recycles packing material, and has put into circulation environmentally-friendly products whenever possible, from water bottles, paper and plastic materials that contain a higher level of recyclable material to environmentally-friendly vases for floral designs.

The Winter 2010 Las Vegas Market is scheduled for Feb. 1 - 5, 2010 at World Market Center Las Vegas. Attendees can register and reserve discounted rooms online now at www.LasVegasMarket.com.

About World Market Center Las Vegas

World Market Center Las Vegas is an integrated home and hospitality contract furnishings showroom and trade complex. The state-of-the-art campus showcases furniture, decorative accessories, gift, lighting, area rugs, home textiles and related segments, as well as the Las Vegas Design Center (LVDC), now open daily to consumers along with their designers. World Market Center currently hosts the preeminent Las Vegas MarketTM biannually in February and September. World Market Center will debut INSPIREDESIGNTM in February 2010 for manufacturers and companies serving the hospitality design marketplace. And Gift + HomeTM show launches in 2010, catering to the gift, decorative accessory and seasonal industries along with Vegas KidsTM which will provide youth furniture, juvenile products, toy and game, children's books, children's apparel and gift. For more information on World Market Center Las Vegas, visit www.LasVegasMarket.com. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.


    MEDIA CONTACTS:
    ---------------

    Susan Inglis
    Sustainable Furnishings Council
    (919) 967-1137
    susan@sustainablefurnishings.org

    Andrew Maiden
    Public Relations Manager
    World Market Center Las Vegas
    (702) 599-3062
    andrew.maiden@lasvegasmarket.com

SOURCE World Market Center Las Vegas



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