The Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS) will hold its International Forum on Responsible Development of the Soybean industry, in Beijing, China, May 28-29, 2013 under the theme “Building Global Bridges for Responsible Soy.”
Co-hosted by the China Soybean Industry Association (CSIA), the conference is the RTRS’ 8th annual conference, and the first held by the association in the Asia-Pacific. China was the first country to cultivate soy and produced approximately 12 million tonnes in 2012/13 (USDA). It is also the world's largest importer, having imported 59 million tonnes in 2012/13 (USDA). Soy is a major global commodity crop used in a wide range of consumer goods and livestock feeds.
“We are honoured to co-host the first RTRS conference in China,” said Agustin Mascotena RTRS CEO. “As the global leader on responsible soy, the RTRS welcomes the opportunity to convene a dialogue on the solutions offered by responsible soy with companies that produce, trade and buy soy in Asia. RTRS soy benefits the environment, workers, and communities and helps companies guarantee a long-term sustainable supply of responsible soy into the future.”
While the purpose of the RTRS conference is to share knowledge and dialogue about responsible soy between all countries and regions where soy is produced and consumed, the programme has a special focus on China as the world’s biggest market for imported soy as well as a major producer. Sessions will cover such topics as the latest development in the soy production and trade in China, Chinese overseas investments in the soy sector, best practices for responsible expansion of soy, and the opportunities and challenges of building a global market for responsible soy.
Soy production, especially in South America, has been blamed for a number of issues including environmental degradation, social breakdown and worker exploitation. The RTRS was created to tackle these issues and transform the soy industry by creating demand for responsible soy in all stages of the supply chain.
A consensus based initiative, the RTRS allows stakeholders with a wide range of views to have a global dialogue and reach agreement on how best to ensure economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sound soy production. The RTRS requires participating farmers to adhere to strict guidelines that encompass legal compliance, fair labour conditions, responsible community relations, environmental responsibility and good agricultural practices. Working with its stakeholders, the RTRS has created a certification process that requires independent third party verification of the adherence of farmers to these guidelines. To date 29 soy producers (and producer organizations representing many small scale producers) have gone through the process of RTRS certification, resulting in nearly 374,000 hectares under certification and 1 million tonnes of certified responsible soy on the global market.
“It’s exciting to see the increase in demand for responsible soy among companies worldwide,” said Mr. Mascotena. “Nearly 663,000 credits of RTRS certified soy have been sold since June 2011 - which is a great start. The Forum in China is an opportunity to build on this initial success and get more companies to join the RTRS, make commitments and take concrete action on the journey to responsible soy. ”
The RTRS membership includes large soy producers as well as small farmers from South America, India and China. Major global traders like Wilmar, Cargill, Bunge and ADM are also members, as well as consumer brands like Unilever and Nestlé, global retailers including Carrefour and Marks & Spencer, NGOs including WWF, The Nature Conservancy and Solidaridad, and financial institutions including Rabobank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Many of these companies and organizations will take place in the RTRS Forum in China, making it a truly global event.
The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global industry network of over 400 retailers, manufacturers, and service providers across 70 countries, has recently endorsed the RTRS in its Sustainability Activation Toolkit, which contains guidance for companies on how to achieve sustainable supply chains.
In addition to the organizations listed above, other participants in Beijing will include representatives from FEFAC (European Feed Association), AAPRESID (Argentinean No Till Producer Association), André Maggi, RSPO, GMP+ International and the European Retailers Group (represented by Belinda Howell). Speaking at the conference will include such respected people as Gai Junyi, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, His Excellency Aart Jacobi Ambassador of the Netherlands to China, Benjamin Ware, Sustainability Manager for Nestlé, Daniel Nepstad from IPAM and Henk Flipsen, Dutch Feed Industry Association.