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Lin Merage Discusses - Sustainable Natural Rubber

For a long time, Lin Merage has been following and supporting the work done by the Rainforest Alliance. This organization has been working to foster a culture of higher forest management which translates to better use, preservation, and interaction with the world’s rainforests. In the last couple of years, Lin Merage has seen the Rainforest Alliance pursue a new project: the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, or GPSNR. The goal of this project is to help sustain the global demand for rubber that is sourced from the world’s rainforests in a more responsible manner.

Rubber is a modern convenience that comes from the rainforests

In every country around the world, there are cars, bikes, buses, airplanes, and more that use rubber as a tool to provide convenience to our daily lives. Natural rubbesed, is a natural resource derived from rubber trees in order to fabricate many rubber-based products. Heavea brasiliensis or the rubber tree is native to Central and South America but is now primarily grown in South East Asia. In order to harvest rubbersed, farmers will tap into healthy trees and collect a milky white latex that is found inside the rubber tree. Not only is this rubber product used to produce tires but many other everyday items such as medical devices, shoes, and even mattresses to name a few.

Rapid population and demand grow

Rapid population and economic growth around the world are increasing the demand for rubber and are ultimately straining the supply of rubber. Economic growth from China, India, and Indonesia is expected to increase the demand for the tire industry. The tire industry consumes about 70% of the world’s natural rubber production. It is clear to see that this increase in demand will affect the world’s rubber tree farms and rubber trees found naturally throughout the world’s rainforests. As demand for latex continues to rise, landowners will seek to convert natural forests into rubber plantations. Organizations like the Rainforest Alliance and fellow members of the newly launched multi-stakeholder platform, the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), must take proactive action to prevent deforestation by working together to build responsible natural rubber supply chains.

GPSNR Objectives

According to the Rainforest Alliance’s website, GPSNR has committed to the following principles and objectives. Rainforest Alliance is dedicated to working in collaboration alongside other members to support the attainment of these objectives within the rubber sector.

  • Advance natural rubber production and processing that protects peatlands, and avoids ecosystem conversion, deforestation, and forest degradation based on the identification and management of forests and other natural ecosystems as outlined in the guidelines of the High Conservation Value Resource Network, the High Carbon Stock Approach, or other applicable regulatory frameworks.

  • Appropriately manage water along the natural rubber value chain.

  • Recognize, promote, and protect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities; to not engage in “land grabbing”; to obtain Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), as defined by the UN-REDD Programme from existing land users; and to promote adequate compensation where land use is granted.

  • Comply with applicable labor laws for employees and contractors and fulfill the intent of the International Labor Organization’s eight core conventions.

  • Recognize and promote human rights within the natural rubber value chain, including alleviating poverty by promoting programs that improve smallholders’ livelihoods.

  • Promote principles of equity throughout the supply chain.

  • Establish and implement protocols for rubber traceability from farm to end-user, working towards full traceability for industrial plantations and applying a risk-based approach for smallholder farms.

  • Support transparent reporting along the entire natural rubber supply chain.

  • To not engage in corruption and to take a zero-tolerance approach on corruption within the value chain.

  • Establish an open, transparent, and independent process to ensure that the members of the GPSNR are respecting, protecting, and contributing to the eventual standards and the reputation of the GPSNR.

  • Develop auditing protocols that allow those interested in these principles to learn which members of the natural rubber value chain are following these best practices.

  • Support training and educational efforts to raise awareness and build capacity for the implementation of these principles, including improvement of production practices by focusing on vertical (improved yield and quality) rather than horizontal (increased planted area) expansion.

The goal is sustainability

The mission of the GPSNR is to lead improvements in the socioeconomic and environmental performance of the world’s supply and demand of rubber. By using a future-focused plan, the project’s plan is to find a fair and equitable way to maintain the sustainability of rubber production and help preserve the world’s rainforests from being converted grossly to accommodate demand.

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