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Monday, February 6, 2023

Gap between consumers’ wish and companies’ act to respect biodiversity

New surveys of more than 5,000 consumers in five countries indicate that the majority (79 per cent) feel that “companies have a moral obligation” to have a positive impact on people and biodiversity in their sourcing of natural ingredients, but only 37 per cent feel “confident that companies pay serious attention” to these issues.

Rik Kutsch Lojenga
Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT’s Executive Director

The non-profit Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) published the 2018 edition of the Biodiversity Barometer on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. The report offers new insights as well as lessons from a decade of research on biodiversity awareness among over 60,000 consumers in sixteen countries.

The report was unveiled at the Beauty of Sourcing with Respect Conference, an annual event in Paris that brings together executives from global beauty brands, as well as company leaders from the natural pharmaceutical, specialty food, and personal care sectors, in addition to non-profit experts, policymakers and others.

One positive finding from Biodiversity Barometer is that awareness and understanding of biodiversity is rising each year.

Dr Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said, “It is promising to see that consumers want action from business.   This trend shows the opportunity for businesses to embrace biodiversity at the core of their business models. The Biodiversity Barometer shows we are heading in the right direction to reach the global target of making people aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably. However, much more still needs to be done.”

New this year is the clear evidence that biodiversity awareness is becoming more mainstream, beyond the well-educated and higher income brackets: awareness among people in low income brackets grew 15 per cent points over the last 10 years. In addition, young consumers aged 16 to 24 who were able to define biodiversity correctly, grew 20 per cent points, compared to 10 per cent points growth in awareness across all those surveyed.

“Growing awareness, along with a clear disparity between what consumers want from brands, and how few brands they can actually name that are ‘walking the talk,’ shows an incredible opportunity for business to take concrete action to position their brands as leaders in sourcing with respect for biodiversity and people,” said Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT’s Executive Director and a leading global expert on ethical sourcing.

The only brand that currently stands out among consumers on respect for people and biodiversity remains Natura Cosmetics in Brazil: 62 per cent of respondents mentioned Natura. Its sister brand, The Body Shop, was mentioned most often in the UK, but still with only 33 per cent recognition.   It must be noted that consumers might not be aware of the actions being taken to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity taken by other companies.

Respondents show a strong personal connection to biodiversity. Seventy-four per cent of those surveyed in the UEBT report agreed that it would “personally affect them” if biodiversity disappears. They find biodiversity conservation important for their personal well-being and that of future generations: more than 80 per cent of people in France, Germany and Brazil said that biodiversity is important to their quality of life.

The findings also show that people want to personally contribute to biodiversity conservation, although they don’t know how. Seventy-four per cent of respondents agree that buying products that respect biodiversity makes them “feel good.”

“This latest Biodiversity Barometer report is encouraging businesses to seize the opportunities offered by growing consumer awareness and contribute to a world in which people and biodiversity thrive,” said Dr Paşca Palmer.

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