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Rubber plantations are a growing driver of deforestation worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia and Western Africa. Mighty Earth joins Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber as founding member.
In an effort to address the rampant deforestation, carbon
emissions and human rights abuses that have plagued the rubber industry
for decades, major tire companies are now collaborating with environmental
advocacy organizations and other key stakeholders in the rubber industry to
launch the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR).
“It took a little while to get to the starting line, but we’re thrilled that the
major tire companies are now racing to address deforestation and land grabbing
in their supply chains,” said Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth, a
founding member of the GPSNR. “The most urgent task for the GPSNR is to
establish a working platform this year to monitor their entire supply chains for
land clearance and human rights issues.”
A similar platform in the Brazilian soy
virtually eliminated deforestation for soy in the Brazilian Amazon
within three years, and has maintained it at near-zero levels for more than a
Rubber plantations are a growing driver of deforestation worldwide, particularly
in Southeast Asia and Western Africa. Deforestation is a major driver of
climate change and is responsible for approximately 20 percent of global
greenhouse gas emissions. And by some estimates, the expansion of deforestation
for rubber between now and 2024 could release the same amount of carbon dioxide
— a major byproduct of rubber production – as India does
annually. Industrial rubber cultivation also destroys the habitats of endangered
animals including tigers, gibbons and elephants.
Industrial plantations also often violate the rights of forest-dwelling
communities and indigenous peoples. Forced displacement, land grabbing, and
human rights abuses frequently accompany the establishment of rubber plantations
in areas of tropical forest.
The GPSNR was designed to address these issues. Initial plans would have created
an industry-dominated forum, but rubber companies and their customers have
responded to calls to create a more inclusive platform. As a result, the GPSNR
was expanded to give an equal voice to NGOs as well as other stakeholders, and
has created a path forward to ultimately include representation for smallholders
“Swift action is urgently needed,” said Kristin Urquiza, Senior Campaign
Director at Mighty Earth. “Fortunately, the Global Platform for Sustainable
Natural Rubber presents an opportunity to take meaningful, industry-wide
to solve this crisis and help eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses
from the global rubber supply chain.”
Mighty Earth has documented the impact of the rubber industry on the natural
environment and human rights in Southeast Asia, and called on tire companies
Michelin and Pirelli to
produce transformative rubber-buying policies that will stop deforestation and
exploitation in rubber-producing countries as quickly as possible. To date, at
least nine companies have adopted policies, although most policies have gaps —
making the success of the GPSNR even more critical.
While automakers including
and tire companies including
are working to improve tire sustainability in various ways, the industry is
still rife with issues, which the organizations behind GPSNR are counting on it
“With the tire industry’s launch of this platform, the goal of eliminating
commodity-driven deforestation by 2020 is within reach for rubber, cocoa, palm
oil, and paper,” Hurowitz said. “The spotlight now falls on the soy industry,
which has failed to extend its own success from the Brazilian Amazon to the
other hotbeds of deforestation across South America, because of the bitter
resistance of rogue traders like Bunge.”
Published Mar 25, 2019 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET