Sustainability at the World Rubber Summit 2019

Nicolas Petit

The benefits of Multistakeholder Collaboration for Systemic Change – the core of the Green Commodities Programme approach  – were highlighted in the opening panel session of the World Rubber Summit in Singapore. GCP Senior Commodities Adviser Nicolas Petit chaired a discussion on “Private-Public Partnerships for Sustainable Rubber”. As with other commodities, sustainability is increasingly important in the rubber sector, with calls for government and business leaders to adopt responsible sourcing policies.

Nicolas noted that sustainable commodity production faced problems that could not be solved by one organisation or business working alone. Whether it is low productivity, low quality, poor land use planning and tenure, or a lack of traceability, a multi-stakeholder approach was essential, and this had to deal with the whole rubber system, not just one component of it.

Speaking to 250 delegates at the Park Royal on Beach Road, Singapore, Nicolas defined multi-stakeholder collaboration as:

A process of interactive learning, empowerment and participatory governance that enables stakeholders with interconnected sustainability problems and ambitions, but often differing interests, to be collectively innovative and resilient when faced with the emerging risks, crises and opportunities of a complex and changing environment.

And he noted that systemic change is needed because:

“Sustainability is characterised by complex and ‘messy’ problems that have a multitude of interactions between all the different players and issues involved. Systemic Change involves working with this complexity, to help people see the whole system, and to recognise that change will often be an unpredictable and surprising process”

GCP’s Multistakeholder Collaboration for Systemic Change is underpinned by 10 years’ experience in commodities such as Palm Oil, Soy and Beef in 12 countries across the globe, where GCP co-creates government-led National Commodity Platforms (NCPs) to plan the way forward. Adopting this approach in the rubber sector would bring benefits for government and the private sector, he said.

For the government, NCPs lead to better policies, more impact on smallholder farmers, an improved international sustainability reputation, and improved trade relations with buyers. For the Private Sector, the gains include increased efficiency through collaborative investment, improved government extension training for farmers, the opportunity to influence the policy agenda and better security of supply in the future.

Nicolas concluded by offering a possible pathway for a successful Private-Public Partnership for Sustainable Rubber. Moving from stakeholder mapping to a shared dialogue to build understanding of the key issues, priority interventions would be identified leading to collaborative action and investment. Continuous learning along the way would improve the programme, and monitoring would ensure the planned impacts were being achieved.

After the discussion, Nicolas commented:

“Rubber is, of course, a different crop to the Palm Oil, Soy and Beef which are the main commmodities that GCP has spent the last 10 years working on. But the sustainability issues are very similar – it’s always a question of how we can combat climate change and deforestation while at the same time improving the lives of rubber producers and their communities. It’s very encouraging to see sustainability given such a high profile at the World Rubber Summit. A more sustainable rubber industry is possible – it will be a joint effort with everyone putting their effort into improvement.”

The World Rubber Summit is organised by the International Rubber Study Group and SingEx Exhibitions, with Enterprise Singapore as Stategic Partner.  

For more information contact: Cristina Baeza, cristina.baeza@undp.org

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