Enhancing smallholders’ influence on the natural rubber value chain

Identifying and empowering smallholder representatives to participate in the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR): a multi-stakeholder platform with a mission to lead improvements in the socio-economic and environmental performance of the natural rubber value chain.


The challenge

Natural rubber cultivation has accelerated in the past twenty years, with production rising 4% a year. Increased demand for natural rubber is driving deforestation in some of the planet’s most critical hotspots for biodiversity, especially in South East Asia, where natural rubber production covers an area equivalent to 67% of oil palm land cover.

Globally, the land devoted to natural rubber production has more than doubled in the past twenty years and now covers an area equivalent to the size of Greece. However, natural rubber has not faced the same public scrutiny as oil palm; natural rubber is one of the few commodities without any regulation or globally binding standards.

With 85% of natural rubber produced by smallholder farmers, the task of finding, organising and empowering suitable representation of this important stakeholder group within GPSNR is vital to incentivise sustainable production on the ground.

GPSNR is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative, with the aim of aligning supply chain actors – including smallholder rubber farmers – to identify and address the potential human health, social and environmental impacts associated with the natural rubber industry. GPSNR was launched in March 2019 by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Tyre Industry Project (TIP) who jointly represent 45% of the world’s natural rubber consumption.


The initiative

P4F’s initiative aims to support GPSNR in ensuring that smallholders can actively participate in decision-making about the future of the natural rubber industry, through representation within the platform.

P4F is supporting Transitions, a consultancy specialised in sustainable and inclusive development models, to research, facilitate and deliver a series of workshops with smallholders and representative organisations in the natural rubber sector. The aim of this work is to identify potential platform members from key producing regions that represent smallholders and their needs.

The initiative aims to understand and address the barriers for smallholders to join and actively participate in GPSNR, and will support GPSNR’s Smallholder Working Group in ensuring meaningful and well-informed representation is embedded while GPSNR is still in its early stages.

P4F also directly supports GPSNR to encourage dialogue between similar platforms and initiatives, in order to create synergies, share best practice and increase learning to enhance the impact of the platform.


Current actions

P4F’s smallholder engagement work launched in September 2019. To date, four workshops have been held for smallholders in Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil and Cote d’Ivoire.

By January 2020, the project will have delivered five workshops in key producing countries, in order to seek and structure smallholder representation on GPSNR. Through the support of P4F’s initiative, GPSNR aims to identify a minimum of 10 smallholder platform members globally. Workshop participants will be asked to nominate the candidates they feel most accurately represent them.

These selected smallholder representatives will form a smallholder category that, once approved at the GPSNR General Assembly, will have equal voting rights to the other membership categories within GPSNR’s governance structure. The smallholder category will then have the chance to select its own representatives on GPSNR’s Executive Committee.


Header image


Brazil, Cote d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand
Commodity focus