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iconSustainable Natural Rubber [   September  2018 ]


Natural rubber is an industrial raw material of strategic importance. It is a significant agricultural crop and economic forestry crop, being utilized in various forms throughout the life cycle and the industry chain, i.e. as agricultural product, timber, industrial product and financial derivatives. It plays an important role in the improvement of livelihood and the promotion of national economic and social development. During the past years, the rapid growth of the world economy has contributed to the rising demand for natural rubber. However, rubber monoculture has continuous environmental and social impact.  Therefore, rubber producers and processors need to raise their awareness and management capacity, namely in the process of planting, processing, investment, risk management, sustainability and due diligence system to prevent and reduce social, environment and economic impact in the host country, to strengthen collaboration, joint development and sharing with stakeholders, to help protect industrial safety and sustainability.     

The concept and guideline of sustainable natural rubber was conceived by China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters under China-UK Collaboration on International Forest Investment and Trade Programme supported by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the UK Department for International Development. Among the key principles are 1) legal and customary compliance; 2) respect for human rights (especially local and indigenous communities’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent); 3) site-specific considerations with respect for environmental and cultural differences; 4) open, transparent and fair competition; 5) environmental and ecological protection through integrated and diversified agriculture; 6) innovative development, inclusion and sharing by giving opportunities for all related parties including authorities, local communities, employees and both upstream and downstream enterprises.  

The concept and guideline of sustainable natural rubber aim particularly at managing risk, encouraging inclusive development to pursue a win-win situation. Rubber entrepreneurs shall emphasize risk management at all stages through due diligence system, which is comprehensive of the life cycle and industry chain of natural rubber. They shall set up resolution mechanism in case of dispute with local communities, collaborate with stakeholders, carry out effectiveness tracking and reporting, assess and prevent potential risks and impacts before investing in consistence with social environment, protect cultural diversity, conserve biodiversity based on ‘zero deforestation’, protect High Conservation Value Areas (HCVAs) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) Areas, replant old rubber trees based on vegetation restoration principle by means of intercropping, relay cropping and rotation, promote the development of environmental economy or green economy for the betterment of smallholders’ livelihood.

In closing, the aforementioned information suggests that the concept and guideline of sustainable natural rubber is a necessary principle of conserving environment, protecting community and safeguarding benefits of all sectors. The time has come for all of us to study and implement the principle in business operation to promote sustainability in rubber industry.

Mr. Chaiyos Sincharoenkul


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