LONDON—There appears to have been a breakthrough in the dispute between tire makers and NGOs over the governance structure of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber.
The initiative was launched in October by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Tire Industry Project. As an independent body, GPSNR aims to drive up the socio-economic and environmental performance of the NR value-chain.
Formation of the platform was led by a working group of TIP member companies: Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper Tire & Rubber, Goodyear, Hankook, Kumho, Michelin, Pirelli, Sumitomo Rubber, Toyo Tire & Rubber and Yokohama Rubber.
A number of NGOs, including Mighty Earth, WWF, Global Witness, Birdlife, Rainforest Alliance, FSC and ProForest, also have been involved in discussions around the set-up of the GPSNR.
"The platform will be independently managed and is being purposefully shaped through the collaboration of businesses and NGOs," according to Gavin Whitmore, communication manager for the TIP and WBCSD.
Stakeholders are continuing to meet to finalize operational details, including that of governance ahead of the "operational launch" of the platform in March 2019, Whitmore added in a written statement.
"All natural rubber stakeholder groups will have a vote and voting-weight will reflect stakeholder ownership, expertise and capacity to implement meaningful change," he added. "TIP is looking to the GPSNR to achieve real change in the natural rubber supply chain.
"The experience of other platforms has demonstrated success is best achieved where voting weight reflects stakeholder ownership, expertise and capacity to implement meaningful change."
NGOs, however, have accused the tire industry of having too much control over the platform. They have argued for a platform voting-system, comprising 50 percent value-chain industry actors, and 50 percent small farmer representatives, NGOs, academia and other non-value-chain stakeholders.
Now, after months of dispute, a deal has been brokered by an independent facilitator during a late-November workshop in Geneva, according to a spokeswoman for Mighty Earth. In a written statement, Liviya James said new draft governance was among the biggest steps forward in the agreement.
"This gives NGOs an equal seat at the table of the key decision-making body… and divides voting rights more equitably within the general assembly," James said. "Although nothing is finalized yet, and there are still issues to be resolved, we are greatly encouraged by the movement toward a more progressive architecture for the platform."
Mighty Earth believes that this would ensure "a more solid foundation for the co-creation of highly ambitious sustainability standards for the natural rubber industry."