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RTRS implements world’s first Zero Deforestation standard for soy production

The Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS) latest enhancement of its Soy Production Standard (version 3.0) has created the world’s first Zero Deforestation multi-stakeholder certification standard.

The standard was unanimously approved by RTRS members during the last General Assembly in 2016, and will help improve the delivery of sustainable soy across Europe.

The 3.0 RTRS Production Standard is the only multi-stakeholder certification scheme that guarantees zero deforestation in responsible soy production. It means that no conversion of any natural vegetation, steep slopes and areas designated by law to serve the purpose of native conservation and/or cultural and social protection is allowed. Producers will, for the first time, be able to show -through assessment overseen by an accredited certification body- that their operations have not impacted on any native forests, wetlands or riverbanks.

In addition, the new standard was recently submitted to the International Trade Centre (ITC) and has been included alongside 210 schemes in their standards map; RTRS leads in environmental and social (human rights and local community) ITC criteria requirements. The map is a leading global research tool in the field of comparing and benchmarking sustainability schemes (1).

In the context of the global objective, as specified in the New York Declaration on Forests and the Consumer Goods Forum resolution, to achieve deforestation free supply chains, RTRS has the only multi-stakeholder soy standard that guarantees zero deforestation.

In addition soy producers that conform to 3.0 RTRS Production Standard must also make a series of other relevant improvements. The RTRS sets important social requirements establishing clear criteria regarding human and labor rights, abolition of any type of discrimination and forced labor, as well as establishing requirements for relations with neighboring communities and indigenous communities and their rights.

The RTRS standard is an important instrument for producers to help them increase their profitability and expand their businesses. It ensures that quality soy exports grow exponentially in an international market that is becoming increasingly judicious about the quality of its traded products.

In 2016 the RTRS certified production increased by 29% (compared to 2015). Industry participation is extremely important when encouraging public commitment to eliminate deforestation from the supply chains of major commodities such as soy.

2017 is a vital time for the soy industry. In January, the European organizations FEFAC, IDH and FEDIOL, and two very important Brazilian organizations, Aprosoja and ABIOVE, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to foster responsible soy production in Brazil.

RTRS welcomes initiatives like this, developed to promote and accelerate stages and steps towards responsible soy production and trading. This is part of the continuous improvement markets` aspiration in which all the organisations in the soy chain should be involved.

Olaf Brugman, RTRS Executive Board member says,
“RTRS is very proud to set a new global standard in the growth of sustainable soy by placing Zero Deforestation at the heart of its new 3.0 certification. It is a robust and innovative standard that will improve transparency along the supply chain.

Jean-Francois Timmers, WWF`s Soy Leader says,
“It is essential that all the actors of the soy supply chain, producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers, engage together on accelerating steps towards responsible soy production and trading, which mean removing all deforestation and conversion of natural habitats from the soy supply chains. It is feasible, as recent research demonstrated, for example, that there is well enough already deforested space available to at least double actual soy production in Brazil, without cutting one single tree or bush.”

Marcelo Visconti, RTRS Executive Director says,
“The journey towards 100% responsible soy in Europe and worldwide involves all the parties along the soy value chain sharing the same goal; and this requires us all working together, sharing responsibilities, opportunities, challenges and commitments.”

The new standard will be a key topic at the RTRS Annual Conference, RT12, taking place in Lille, France between 31 May and June 1 2017. The RTRS round table event is a long-running industry conference where soy producers, stakeholders and NGOs share ideas and solutions as to how they can lead continuous improvement in their sector. The central theme of the conference will be Zero Deforestation, Transparency and Scale.