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Stakeholders Dialogue paves way to Sustainability

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Addressing the systemic challenges of our world cannot be achieved without multi-stakeholder collaboration. Pirelli held a Global Stakeholder Dialogue, facilitated by CSR Europe, to finalise the Implementation Manual of its Sustainable Natural Rubber Policy.

In October 2017, Pirelli issued its Sustainable Natural Rubber Policy. This policy is the driving force of Pirelli’s commitment to promote, develop and implement a sustainable and responsible procurement and use of natural rubber throughout the value chain. Pirelli, with the support of TFT, has developed a Policy Implementation Manual as set forth by Pillar X of Pirelli Policy. This Manual aims to provide clarification on expectations for each supply chain node to implement the Pirelli Sustainable Natural Rubber Policy; from the grower to the processors, including small holders, industrial plantations, and middle men/local traders. Furthermore, it will be applicable to any region where Pirelli sources its natural rubber from, leaving technical aspects to the local application through training and gap analysis on the field.


The drafting process started “on the ground” with consultation of processors, collectors, middle men, small holders/growers, local NGOs and natural rubber industry local unions, and has continued with consultation aimed at collecting Global Stakeholders’ feedback.

CSR Europe facilitated a Global Stakeholder Dialogue at the end of the process. This meeting gathered no less than 23 different stakeholders (Natural Rubber Suppliers to Pirelli, International NGOs, Multilateral Agencies, and Pirelli Customers).

In this interview with Eleonora Giada Pessina, Group Sustainability Officer at Pirelli and Heloise d'Huart, Project Manager at The Forest Trust (TFT), we discuss Pirelli’s efforts to enhance sustainability  within its natural rubber supply chain, through a dedicated  Implementation Manual.

How important is it to engage in a Global Stakeholder Dialogue process for such a robust implementation manual?

Eleonora Giada Pessina (EGP):  The stakeholder dialogue allowed us to gain precious feedback from key and experienced stakeholders, so to align our future strategy with the different expectations. Ultimately the Dialogue helped us finalizing the implementation manual. Stakeholders are not mere observers. They are an active part of the strategy, their engagement is fundamental to accelerate the success of our sustainable natural rubber implementation road map (2019-2021).

Having such a diverse set of stakeholders with different interests is instrumental. It gives a holistic approach to the implementation manual. As you know, stakeholders have different interests and agendas, but unless we identify common goals, we will not be able to address the existing inefficiencies and ultimately achieve greater impact. We should take advantages of collaboration!

Heloise d'Huart (HH): I think that the Global Stakeholders dialogue was useful because it was comprehensive. While the preliminary work was carried out at the local level, the stakeholder dialogue added a global perspective as a result of bringing together a wide range of international actors, including suppliers and different types of NGO.  This allowed the combination of both perspectives (ground based and global) to be incorporated into the final version of the Pirelli’s implementation manual.

EGP: Besides the conclusion of the implementation manual, stakeholders were also very keen to learn what Pirelli would do moving forward. They wanted to know:

  • What would be the next step after finalizing the implementation manual?
  • Which indicators would be used to measure its success?
  • In terms of transparency, which mechanisms would be used?
  • What would be the way forward in the next year?

In order to address these questions, we outlined our goals and objectives. We also provided a realistic explanation on what Pirelli could and could not achieve in terms of sustainability. This openness created a constructive atmosphere that enabled us to engage the stakeholders by incorporating their suggestions and recommendations and have their buy-in of the implementation manual.

How was your experience in collecting feedback from various stakeholders in the development of Pirelli’s implementation manual? Was it useful?

HH: It has been a productive experience. As a member of the team responsible for drafting the implementation manual, collecting feedback from various stakeholders enabled me to build an insight on the level of details of the process, and to assess the level of stakeholders’ uptake on the key issues around the natural rubber network.

Why is the perspective of an NGO so crucial to the dialogue?

HH: NGOs play a critical role at all level. At local level, it is always advisable to consult them and listen to their field-based perspectives before implementing any initiative in the area in which they operate as it preciously informs your actions. Engaging continuously with NGOS could not only help managing and reducing reputational risks but increases the probabilities of achieving their expectations.

What Value does CSR Europe bring in organising stakeholder dialogues?

EGP: I think the value of CSR Europe lays on its thought leadership. CSR Europe’s Executive Director, Stefan Crets has an open-door method of moderating high – level engagements, which is key to the success of the stakeholder dialogue. Participants are encouraged to actively share their views on the matters under discussion. Further, CSR Europe has a vast pool of experience in organising such events, and a great deal of expertise in the field of raw materials sustainability including natural rubber.  

In general, Pirelli has always worked with its stakeholders at local and global level This is a typical work culture of our organisation. However it is in the last years that, our engagement with stakeholders was propelled to another level.  We moved from discussing one issue with a specific stakeholder category to discussing the same issue with a wider range of stakeholder. As a result, we became more efficient in gathering different views and expectations from various stakeholders and find balanced outcomes that reflect those expectations.

What do you think would be the key enablers for the success of the implementation manual?

HH: I would clearly mention the adherence of the suppliers and the demonstrations that they are taking ownership of such process. This however does not mean that the implementation solely depends on them. But, as part of relevant actors, it would be advantageous if they set their respective roadmaps to address their challenges and/or publishing their own sustainability natural rubber sourcing policy.  That would be a clear indicator of success of the implementation manual. Another long-term indicator would be the extent to which the involved communities have improved their livelihoods.

Link to Hitachi stakeholder video