Michelin renews, expands its work with WWF France

The 2015-initiated collaboration between the Michelin Group and the French office of the World Wide Fund for Nature has been renewed for a further four years. The tyre maker will continue working with WWF France towards sustainability within the natural rubber market. In the coming four years, the partnership will further develop an existing pilot project in Indonesia and additionally open up the collaboration to include sustainable mobility and the protection of biodiversity.

The emphasis over the past four years was upon defining what constitutes sustainable natural rubber, the development of procurement practices and the promotion of good practices amongst key market players and international bodies. Michelin says the partnership facilitated the publishing of its sustainable natural rubber policy, adding that “several major players” have followed its example in making commitments to zero deforestation.

In this context, WWF France and Michelin Group have developed a joint pilot project in Indonesia. Located in areas which have sustained damage and have WWF priority status due to their rich biodiversity and their proximity to the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, this project aims to preserve and restore the forest while developing responsible rubber plantations.

Michelin reports that “major progress” has already been made to this end, including the creation of a consultation and inclusion programme for local communities and the construction of villages. Furthermore, it says the project has led to – in spite of “a local context that presents many social and environmental challenges” – reduced illegal deforestation within the territory and the protection of nearly 10,000 additional hectares for the elephant population.

By renewing the current partnership, Michelin and WWF France ensure the continuation of this project and its aim of striking a balance between local economic development, benefits for local communities and preservation of the forest as well as the biodiversity contained within.

International Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber

The partnership also contributed to the establishment of the International Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber in March 2019. Michelin Group and the WWF are both founder members.

Joined by 39 other members, the platform’s mission is the large-scale transformation of purchasing and production practices linked to this key raw material. The platform strives to involve all stakeholders in the value chain, from producer to consumer, so as to preserve the forests and ecosystems threatened by unsustainable practices.

Here again, the renewal of the current partnership should make it possible to institute changes at the heart of the rubber market and its production by drawing on this platform.

Sustainable mobility & biodiversity protection

Lastly, this new phase of the partnership between Michelin and WWF France opens up two additional lines of work: Sustainable mobility and the protection of biodiversity. WWF France will support Michelin Group in aligning its goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions against that of the Paris Agreement in order to stay well below the 2°C target. The partners will work together alongside international mobility and climate players to communicate joint messages on future mobility. WWF France will also support Michelin in developing and then implementing a Biodiversity 2030 strategy for the Group.

“Our ambition to develop sustainable mobility is enriched by the contributions from civil society and all stakeholders,” says Hélène Paul, Michelin Group purchasing director. “Hence, our global partnership with the WWF allows us to make more efficient and rapid progress on essential topics, such as the protection of the tropical forests or of biodiversity. The assessment of the actions that we have conducted together since 2015 is very encouraging.”

“Because it is one of the world’s leading purchasers of natural rubber, Michelin Group serves as a vital lever for driving the transformation of rubber plantations and the rubber market,” comments Jean Bakouma, forests manager at WWF France. “We are proud of this collaboration which has already produced tangible results both on the rubber market and on the ground. The renewal of this partnership represents a unique opportunity for bringing good practices into the sector as a whole and in this way preserving the forests and biodiversity.”

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