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Sustainable Natural Rubber: agreement on priority actions

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

CSR Europe members - Pirelli and Bridgestone - are, together with other tyre makers and stakeholders, engaged in a new Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR). This independent platform will lead improvements in the socio-economic and environmental performance of the natural rubber value chain.

CSR Europe has been engaged on the topic of Sustainable natural rubber since 2016 when the European sector association of tyre- and rubber manufacturers requested CSR Europe to make a benchmark on the existing sustainability initiatives in natural rubber and to run a European and global stakeholder dialogue on the way forward.  In 2018, Drive Sustainability, which is the supply chain sustainability platform from the automotive sector, also engaged towards the tyre makers on the topic of sustainable natural rubber. This engagement is part of its wider approach to sustainable raw materials (see Material Change report).

Last January, during a stakeholder workshop in Singapore, Founding Members of the GPSNR and other stakeholders, aligned on a multi-stakeholder governance structure that includes a greater share of voting weight for civil society members. “This is a significant development,” said Stefano Savi, GPSNR Director “the model aligned in Singapore comes out of a November 2018 workshop in Geneva – it’s a product of the dedication of all stakeholders to the shared goal of sustainable natural rubber – we’ve seen compromise from all parties, there’s a spirit of cooperation and inclusivity that shows there’s real commitment to make this work.”

The proposed governance structure will be put forward for adoption at the platform’s inaugural General Assembly (GA) planned for 21st March 2019, Singapore, scheduled in conjunction with the World Rubber Summit. The platform includes the enrolment of smallholder members amongst its priorities. Despite the challenges associated with recruiting smallholder representatives, the more than 50 GPSNR stakeholders present at the workshop agreed that this critically important stakeholder group should be part of the GPSNR decision making structure. The workshop also confirmed the need for targeted member-recruitment to bolster the inclusion of rubber processors, NGOs specialized in social aspects relevant to rubber production, as well as non-tire manufacturing rubber makers.

“Agreement on platform governance is excellent progress and means the platform can better focus on the work ahead. We’re all aware of the critical challenges that remain, but there’s a feeling that, together, we can meet those challenges” said Savi.

CSR Europe has started to engage in a dialogue with the GPSNR and will also provide updates and lessons learned to be applied in other supply chains to its multi-sectorial membership base.