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Reducing Biodiversity Loss

UEBT report makes 10 recommendations.

By: Happi Staff

Reducing Biodiversity Loss

The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) has launched a new report called ‘The Big Shift: Business for Biodiversity’ that puts forward the top 10 lessons learned by a group of more than 50 businesses that are leaders in sourcing with respect for people and biodiversity.  The report includes cases from large cosmetics companies such as Natura, The Body Shop, Givaudan and Yanbal Unique, as well as from global food companies such as the Martin Bauer Group, and flavor and fragrance companies such as Symrise, as well from smaller export and processing companies.

UEBT contends the report offers a practical and tested set of lessons from their experience on the ground, with examples as diverse as picking rose hip in Lesotho to farming citrus in Southern Italy to producing sesame oil in Mexico. 
“With the staggering loss of biodiversity in recent years, and the UN process underway, we felt the time was right to bring forward these ‘from the ground up’ experiences and to share what we know can work,” said Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT’s executive director and a leading global expert on ethical sourcing of biodiversity-based ingredients.
Among the lessons shared are that companies should meet rising consumer expectations for ethical sourcing, work on the ground with local communities, share with those communities any economic benefits of research and development of raw materials, and contribute to repair and regenerate local biodiversity.

The 10 recommendations from the report are:

1. Biodiversity is our business. Businesses that undertake efforts to improve their impact on biodiversity along their supply chains do so because they see a strong economic case for their action, among other reasons.  For some companies, the business case goes deeper, focusing on the link between biodiversity and human well-being and moving to the regeneration of biodiversity.

2. Biodiversity is a consumer expectation. There is a growing consumer awareness of biodiversity: what it is, its importance and that companies should protect it.  Companies need to recognize this rising awareness and use it as an opportunity to meet expectations from consumers in how the company goes about its sourcing and innovation of ingredients from nature.

3. Biodiversity means engaging on the ground. A significant gap has emerged between company’s sustainability commitments and implementation of those commitments on the ground. While company commitments have risen significantly, corporate action is often lagging behind commitments. Implementation and public reporting of concrete action on the ground is a significant challenge.  UEBT members are required to go beyond establishing sourcing systems and commitments to improve practices, and to engage on the ground to have an impact.

4. Standards are tools for biodiversity action. Working with independent standards often enhances and expands corporate in-house programmes on biodiversity, and they further benefit a company with external recognition. UEBT and its standard are a good approach that can be integrated in their own policies and procedures.  The UEBT membership process drives ethical sourcing commitments, and the tools of UEBT verification or certification help to solidify those commitments.

5. People and biodiversity are inherently linked. Long term investments in communities are necessary to lift people out of poverty and ensure preservation of local biodiversity. Companies can contribute to local economic development through ethical sourcing practices such as those incorporated in the UEBT Ethical BioTrade standard.

6. Recognizing rights over biodiversity is essential. Access and benefit-sharing (ABS) rules and principles are tools based on recognition of rights of countries and communities over their resources and associated knowledge. UEBT members and other leading companies are already exercising due diligence, applying good practices, and collaborating with governments on ABS. They are not only navigating ABS rules, but contributing to making these rules more practical, more effective and more impactful on the ground.

7. Biodiversity is part of company strategies, operations and supply chains. Company vision and leadership at the highest level have been factors in making progress over the long-term on integrating biodiversity across business strategies, operations and supply chains. Benefits for companies have included: improved sustainability strategy, more effective supply management, better risk identification, enhanced stakeholder recognition, corporate reputation, and more.  Benefits for their suppliers have included: improved working conditions, better contracts, support for environmental and social projects, enhanced credibility and recognition from the purchasing company, and a view towards long-term partnerships.

8. Biodiversity actions are effective when tailored to local contexts. Actions for biodiversity only work when they are fine-tuned to local realities, involve producers in the plans and complement existing local strategies. They can also contribute not only to the reduction of biodiversity loss but also to broader conservation and restoration activities.

9. Biodiversity regeneration is the next step. Companies are beginning to think not only of reducing harm to biodiversity, and conserving species that are threatened or endangered, but also about regenerating biodiversity in and around the sourcing areas.  Companies are going beyond sustaining what they have.

10. Biodiversity means working in partnership. In the supply chain, the close collaboration with suppliers and farmers or field operators is essential, since these local actors have important knowledge, must have buy-in for the actions and are the only ones that can make changes on the ground.  Companies also benefit from sharing information and best practices with others in their industry and in multi-stakeholder initiatives.

The report follows from the IPBES' 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem services – that companies, civil society organizations and governments see as the fundamental word on the state of biodiversity today – showing where we are and where we need to go as a global community to reach the 2050 Vision of the UN Biodiversity Convention 'Living in harmony with nature.’

“We teach people to conserve and live alongside diverse species present in their fields and hope they will spread this philosophy to the next generations,” shared Guadalupe Bojorquez, General Manager of Mexialoe Laboratorios, a company whose work with indigenous communities harvesting aloe vera in the buffer zones of national parks in Mexico, is also featured in the report.

The report will be a contribution to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s process to develop a ‘post-2020 global biodiversity framework’ that will guide action on biodiversity for the next decade and beyond. 
‘2020 is what we call a ‘super year’ for biodiversity with policy makers around the globe working on this global plan to drive actions for the coming decade and more.  The private sector has a lot to share in terms of our experiences and lessons learned on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,’ said Bas Schneiders, board chair of UEBT and the head of international strategic sourcing at Weleda, another company featured in the report. 
UEBT is a non-profit association that promotes sourcing with respect. It works to regenerate nature and secure a better future for people through ethical sourcing of ingredients from biodiversity. Its aim is to contribute to a world in which all people and biodiversity thrive. More information can be found at:

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