The Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) held its Annual General Assembly on September 23, which saw the approval of a members’ sustainability policy framework and the creation of a new membership category for smallholder producers of natural rubber (NR). The Singapore-based Platform is an international, multi-stakeholder, voluntary membership initiative seeking to lead improvements in the socioeconomic and environmental performance of the NR value chain
The newly approved policy framework will help GPSNR member companies, who account for almost 50% of global NR volume, to establish or update strong supply chain sustainability commitments through their NR purchasing policies, on all aspects of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social. Modelled around the Platform’s 12 Principles of Sustainable Natural Rubber, the new policy framework sets out eight overarching themes that include commitments to legal compliance, community livelihoods, healthy, functioning ecosystems (including no deforestation), and respecting all human rights.
GPSNR Director, Mr. Stefano Savi, stated that this was a tremendous milestone for the Platform and for the natural rubber industry, noting that in just under two years, GPSNR members developed and approved concrete policy commitments for companies to integrate into their sustainable NR policies. “Today, and despite the challenges we all faced during this global pandemic, GPSNR members send a signal to the world about their commitment to achieving a fair, equitable and environmentally sound future,” he said.
With around 85% of the world’s NR produced by smallholders, the rubber sector is primarily reliant on smallholder producers. In order to transform this sector, the GPSNR is embracing smallholder inclusivity and a concept of shared responsibility through the establishment of a Shared Responsibility Working Group. This group will identify how the responsibilities and costs of implementation can be equitably distributed across all stakeholder categories, with the understanding that smallholders should not carry the burden of a higher cost to implement sustainability activities in complying with the policy or implementation guidance to be developed.
Mr. Savi referred to smallholders as a crucial link in the NR value chain, remarking that they play a key role in driving awareness on-the-ground and setting the global agenda for sustainable NR.
This year, GPSNR welcomed 28 smallholder members from seven rubber-producing countries. They now constitute a newly approved standalone category and play an equal role in decision-making within GPSNR alongside the other four categories: producers, processors, and traders; tire manufacturers and other natural rubber makers/buyers; car manufacturers, other downstream users and financial institutions; and civil society.
GPSNR’s virtual General Assembly drew more than 120 attendees, including members of the Platform, partners and invited guests. In addition to voting on resolutions, GPSNR members also elected representatives to the 2020-2021 Executive Committee, which comprises representatives from each of the membership categories. And for the first time, three newly elected smallholder producers with diverse geographical backgrounds will participate in Executive Committee discussions and decision-making.
The 2020-2021 Executive Committee of GPSNR is made up of the following members:
Producers, processors and traders - SIPH; Socfin; Southland Global.
Tire Makers and Other NR Makers/Buyers: Bridgestone Corporation; Continental AG and Michelin.
Car Makers, Other Downstream Users, and Financial and Financial Institutions- BMW.
Civil Society- HCV Resource Network; Mighty Earth and WWF.
Smallholder Producers - Baroan Roland (Côte d’Ivoire); Soontorn Rakrong (Thailand) and Dang Quoc Thong (Vietnam).