Responsible Global Commodities Initiative
The RGCI is an educational forum that addresses the challenges associated with global commodities. Responsible global commodities means internationally produced and traded goods that comport with global policies, company standards, and local conditions such that the activities have a positive net impact on the relevant communities and sustains competitiveness.
The Initiative will:
- Critically analyze the social, environmental and economic impacts of select global commodities, such as coffee, timber, sugar, soya, minerals, tea, and cocoa, using a multidisciplinary perspective that we believe will help provide new insights and understandings;
- Engage stakeholder leaders to research and discuss these issues in a public forum to help shape the conversation towards the concept of “responsible commodities”; and,
- Be a catalyst for innovation and a healthier public policy dialog on how to most effectively address the issues associated with global commodities.
Responsible global commodities means internationally produced and traded goods that are excavated, grown, harvested, processed, and/or distributed in a way that comports with global policy’s, company standards, and local conditions such that the activities have a positive net impact on the relevant communities (stakeholders) and sustains competitiveness.
The Importance of RGCI:
There are a number of challenges in our global commodity system which affect our daily lives even though we may not realize it; everything from:
- Government policy – a combination of deregulation, liberalization, and market-based policies for agricultural commodity dependent countries has proven misguided since global commodities represent significant portions of their revenue sources; state marketing boards were even removed and foreign supplies of financing twisted local markets.
- Price volatility – the primary driver to price volatility rests in global commodities – foods such as maize, soya, wheat, dairy, sugar, coffee, and cocoa, among others – all representing the backbone of the food system and accounting for upwards of 80% of total human caloric intake.
- Inclusion of local producers – small holders have traditionally been excluded from industrial agriculture which is a form of production that has shaped our global food system; even the labor rights of those working in the industry have fallen off our radar screen, culminating in the worst farmer suicide rates in history.
- Conservation of biodiversity – the environment has conventionally been seen as a good to exploit and not preserve, and therefore policies have never favored protecting these resources. Often this leads to deforestation and exacerbates our global climate change related issues.
- Human health – is impacted with ever increasing use of synthetic fertilizers for pesticides, herbicides, and inducing agents for transportability.
- Sustainability – with our food traveling such far distances, the consumption of petro-chemicals is exacerbated; our use of toxic chemicals further depletes soils and creates pollution and dead zones in our waterways, preventing the necessary bacteria of life to flourish.
- Local Markets – as a result of food grown in weakly governed countries and destined for export, local food security has decreased; it has even shifted cultural habits of eating, for instance with wheat being such a large export under the US PL 480 Food for Peace program, the only food available in some cases are non-traditional or non-indigenous food staples.