Second year at University of Padova: Module 3
Societal marketing: forest certification and other tools
The aim of the course is to give students a thorough understanding of the current situation and potential role of societal marketing applied to the forestry sector. Particularly stressed is the role of environmental and social instruments that can be used by both private and public organisations in order to improve their reputation and image among consumers and civil society.
In the rapidly changing scenario of the global economy, an important new fact is that, in a market economy with sufficiently competitive and transparent markets, and with environmentally conscious citizens and consumers, organisations will be rewarded for their environmental and social achievements, while they will face constraints if they use environmentally and socially poor practices without taking into account stakeholders’ point of views and expectations. Due to this trend, which is influencing also the forestry sector’s companies and the forest products and services traders and users, the societal marketing is becoming a strategic instrument for business. More specifically, the course includes: (i) Fundamentals of Marketing and Societal marketing and Strategic planning: the business plan (environment and organisation analysis, SWOT analysis, the marketing mix: the "4+2 P’s variables"); (ii) Market Segmentation and Differentiation; competitive advantages and marketing positioning; (iii) Instruments and initiatives for adopting and implementing environmental and social responsible behaviours, included legislation, financial and voluntary instruments for enterprises as well as initiatives linked to policy framework such as the EU FLEGT Action Plan. Among theme are included at least: a) Sustainable Management standards (contents’ analysis, system-based vs. performance-based, stakeholders consultation in standards setting processes; focus on Sustainable Forest Management standards, Environmental Management Systems standards like ISO 14000 and Social Accountability standards like SA8000 and AA1000); b) key-standards and related certification systems for forestry in tropical countries (ISO 14001 international EMS standards, SA8000 standards, FSC and PEFC standards for Forest Management and Chain-of-Custody; others: FLO and WFTO for fair trade certification, IFOAM for organic farming certification, etc.): basic concepts, ratio and effectiveness, pros and cons, procedures and instruments (manuals, checklists, record forms, etc.) c) Special topics: biomasses certification and market demand; standards and certification of Carbon offsets projects; Group certification (forest management and chain-of-custody); Forest plantations’ certification; Certification and market demand of non-wood forest products and forest environmental services; (iv) Environmental and social auditing, independent forest monitoring and accounting; v) Environmental and social communication and reporting (focus on Global Reporting Initiative); vi) Case studies are presented in detail to explain how the different instruments apply in practice and which are their main pros and cons. In addition, selected wood processing companies implementing such instruments, mainly located in the wood industrial districts of North Italy with suppliers and partners in tropical countries, are visited by the students.
Teaching and learning methods:
Presentations and analyses of the main subjects are carried out in classrooms sessions, with the support of exercises related to theory and case studies. In addition, the teaching is supported by a number of visits at selected companies’ production sites and offices, where students have the opportunity to meet managers, businessmen, organisations’ staff, experts, etc. and directly discuss with them while also directly observing key-aspects of societal marketing (raw material suppliers’ selection, premium prices, etc). The course is supported by e-learning materials (on Moodle platform).
The students are first required to pass a written examination (open-ended questions on main contents of the course). Only those passing the written examination are admitted to the final oral examination. The oral examination includes: a) discussion on eventual weaknesses identified in the previous written examination; b) additional open-ended questions on the modules’ contents; c) presentation and discussion of a written report (in form of a draft research synopsis) on one key issue selected by the student him/herself (e.g. market for certified products, marketing plan, reporting, certification, etc.) (max 1,500 words – tables, figures, appendixes, references excluded). The written examination counts 40% for final marking; the point a) and b) of the oral examination counts for 40% and the written report counts 20% for final marking. A premium mark from 0 to 1 is assigned for active participation during classroom activities and visits. Internal examiner.
(i) Understanding of past developments and recent trends of societal marketing, (ii) knowledge of key issues, instruments and methodologies of societal marketing, (iii) detail skills related to societal marketing concepts and tools, (iv) detailed knowledge of the most important environmental and social responsibility’s instruments, including communication, codes of good practices, auditing, reporting and accounting, third party certification and labelling, (v) capacity to formulate useful questions to companies’ managers, businessmen, etc. and discuss with them in order to analyse their companies’ case-studies, (vi) ability to analyse case-studies and to use them in understanding theory and concepts and in identifying weaknesses and strengths, (vii) capacity to link global forest policy principles and initiatives to promote environmental and social values protection with operational instruments and projects to improve organisations’ market performances, internal organisational rules, image and reputation.