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UEBT Reflects on Ethical Beauty Sourcing for International Day for Biodiversity

Posted: May 23, 2013

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Rémy Oudghiri, director of trends and insights at IPSOS, highlighted the opportunity created by the lack of brands that are globally associated by consumers with respect for biodiversity. He said, “There are clear opportunities for brands to position themselves around the issue of biodiversity, and anticipate increasing consumer interest on this issue.”

To facilitate discussion and exchange, several parallel sessions were organized this year. Biodiversity: Implications for Marketing and Communication, moderated by David Ainsworth from the CBD Secretariat, explored in more depth what the findings of the UEBT Biodiversity Barometer mean for marketing. The Biodiversity Barometer shows that the young, better-educated and affluent people have the highest biodiversity awareness rates. To connect to consumers on biodiversity, companies need be transparent and truly sustainable, as well as communicate positively. "Green is beautiful" and "You don’t need to be ugly to save the planet" are catching examples of positive approaches, said Leila Rochet-Podvin, from Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation.

Story telling, putting a face to supplier communities and sourcing areas, is an effective approach as well. Beraca showed how it partners with Kiehls on acai, a natural ingredient from the Amazon. A drawing contest was held among children from the local communities that collect acai, with the winning painting used for a label of a Kiehls’ product. "A successful way to connect to consumers," said Claire Frelin from Beraca.

Lorena Jaramillo from the UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative moderated the session aimed at sharing experiences on working with sourcing communities to promote local development. Olvea Burkina Faso, showed the importance of moving from conventional sourcing practices to more direct and longer-term relationships with source communities. "The next step for Olvea is to support communities towards diversifying the products they supply, in order to increase daily income and reduce dependence on one product," said Christophe Godard from Olvea. Rodrigo de Prospero, UEBT, emphasized the critical importance of entering into dialogue with local communities. This includes listening, giving local partners the opportunity to actively participate, and exchanging information.

Gabriela Salinas, a community engagement expert working with UEBT, stressed the importance of information sharing. She added, "Information is at the basis of any constructive dialogue, and helps clarify the responsibilities of communities and the company." The recently developed UEBT community training materials are good examples of tools to provide simple and visual information on the Ethical BioTrade concept.

Humberto Gomez from FAN Bolivia moderated this session, which showed examples of how three UEBT member companies are working to promote biodiversity conservation in their supply chains. For over 15 years, Candela has collected Brazil nut from deep in the Peruvian Amazon–the nuts are turned into oil fpr The Body Shop products, among others. "The Brazil nut collection respects sustainable management plans of forest concession, and offers sustainable livelihoods to forest communities," said Gaston Vizcarra of Candela.

Fernando Alonso Oliveira from Native, a leading organic sugar cane producer from Brazil gave another example, in different circumstances. Native supplies, among other products, sustainable alcohol to beauty brands. By adopting biodiversity-friendly farming practices and introducing forest habitats on their farms, studies show Native has had a positive impact on farm biodiversity.

Finally, Peter Lovett from the Savannah Fruits Company shows how the organic Shea Nut collection from a hippo sanctuary in Northern Ghana preserves the habitat of hippos and generates income for the communities in the region.

Thierry Aubry-Lecomte, Natura Cosmetics Europe, delivered the keynote address for the afternoon sessions. Setting the scene for discussions on R&D in natural ingredients, Aubry-Lecomte highlighted the synergies between innovation and biodiversity. He described how Natura Cosmetics put ‘socio-biodiversity’ at the core of its business strategy and gave concrete examples of how science, technology, innovation and biodiversity can be successfully connected.

Benefit sharing: An update on ABS Rules and Regulations, chaired by Maria Julia Oliva, UEBT, provided an update of legal developments on ABS in some key countries, as well as insights into issues and concerns driving government and other stakeholders. Roberto Calvacanti, secretary of biodiversity and forest at the Ministry of Environment in Brazil, emphasized the importance of the Nagoya Protocol. “Biodiversity does not respect national boundaries, which is why the recognition of sovereign rights must be accompanied by equitable sharing of benefits.” In terms of ABS in Brazil, Calvacanti noted ongoing work to review legislation, with a vision of making Brazilian biodiversity “a catalyst for research, innovation, economic and social development, and biodiversity conservation.” The idea is to generate benefits through the creation of a favourable environment for innovation and development of biodiversity-based products and processes.