Secretariat Update - October 2019
On September 24-26th, stakeholders from around the world and across the rubber value chain came together in the city of Hat Yai - the rubber hub in South of Thailand – to attend a three-day workshop organized by the Rainforest Alliance, Mighty Earth, Einhorn Products, Earth Net Foundation and supported by the Prince of Songkhla University.
In attendance were farmers, processors, tire companies, apparel and footwear brands, NGOs and governmental representatives, all together over 100 participants.
The event offered a space for the diverse set of attendees to discuss the challenges and opportunities experienced by the rubber sector in the adoption and implementation of individual and global commitments to sustainable and ethical rubber with a focus on solutions. What set the workshop apart from the regular workshop we all know, was the addition of a field-excursion to two rubber-plantations operating under differing production models: a farm applying agro-forestry with a mix of native hardwoods and rubber trees and one fully developed diversified community agro-forestry farm. Additionally, instead of solely focusing on NGOs, companies and governmental representation (as the regular workshop often does), delegations from a number of farmer associations representing various countries also attended and provided key input to inform discussions from the farmer's perspective.
Days 2 and 3 of the workshop were focused on forming partnerships and generating solutions to begin working towards a transformed natural rubber supply chain which delivers value to all actors from the farm to the end user. Break out groups comprised of farmers, processors, brands, NGOs, tire companies and government representatives discussed topics such as traceability, policy implementation and capacity building for smallholders. Each break out group then categorized their discussions into short term actions, long term actions, barriers and learning curves which will be summarized into a collective call to action by the organizing team. One of the most powerful outcomes was an overall agreement amongst all stakeholders in attendance that to truly bring about positive transformation we must all work together towards a shared vision.