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:: New insights in biodiversity and sustainability awareness around the world

The 2012 biodiversity barometer finds that 76% of all respondents from around the globe were aware of sustainable development, 64% of biodiversity. Of the top 100 beauty companies in the world, 54 mentioned sustainability in their reporting and website, while 31 referred to biodiversity.

The barometer provides insights on evolving biodiversity awareness among consumers and how the beauty industry reports on biodiversity. It also illustrates the progress towards achieving the targets of the Strategic Plan of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This year, the survey was conducted among 8000 consumers in eight countries - Brazil, France, Germany, India, Peru, Switzerland, UK and USA.

 

Towards Rio+20

Twenty years after the United Nations Earth Summit significant levels of awareness have been reached. UEBT found that global awareness on sustainability is 76%. Yet, over the last years the growth curve has flattened. Rio+20, the UN Summit on Sustainable Development that will be held in Brazil later this year, is aiming to provide new impetus for sustainable development. A significant number of people surveyed (75%) assign an important role to private sector in achieving sustainable development, in addition to their governments. This highlights the needs to consider the private sector in the outcomes of Rio+20 and the importance of business to take action towards the future we want.

 

Reaching the 2020 biodiversity targets

Awareness on biodiversity around the world is generally high, with particularly high awareness rates in countries like Brazil, France, Switzerland and South Korea. Significant differences of awareness exist between countries, even within the same region. The understanding of biodiversity, measured through the number of people that provided correct definitions of biodiversity, is often very limited: Nowhere does it exceed 50%.

 

Governments worldwide are committed to increasing understanding of the values of biodiversity by the year 2020, as part of the biodiversity targets of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The UEBT Biodiversity Barometer shows that when reaching out to increase understanding, the most important channels are television, magazines, newspapers and schools.

 

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the CBD, said: "The first target of 2020 is raising awareness on the values of biodiversity. To reach these targets we need to regain the momentum created by 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. We trust that Rio+20 and the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity 2011-2012 will put biodiversity high on people's agenda again.”

 

Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT Executive Director, adds: "Only 19% of people have heard about biodiversity through business communications. So far, the potential contribution of the private sector towards biodiversity awareness remains largely untapped. To understand the vast potential, one only needs to look at Brazil where consumers say that advertising is the second most important source of information on biodiversity. Biodiversity awareness in Brazil is highest among the surveyed countries.”

 

Ethical sourcing of biodiversity: consumer expectations towards business

The UEBT biodiversity barometer finds that 85% of consumers surveyed look for natural ingredients in cosmetics products, and 69% pay attention to where ingredients come from. More than 80% would like to be better informed about companies' sourcing practices. Yet, only 31 of the top 100 beauty companies mention biodiversity in their websites or CSR reporting. Only 19 mention biodiversity sourcing practices in supply chains, and consistent and comprehensive reporting on these issues is almost absent.

 

This year particular attention was paid to emerging economies. "Emerging economies are not only the markets of the future, they are also increasingly influencing the sustainability agenda” said Rik Kutsch Lojenga. "Many consumers in emerging economies are interested in environmental and social issues. When asked about their purchasing behaviour, 41% of consumers in Brazil, India and Peru indicated they pay attention to a brand's social and environmental values. Levels that are higher than those in Western markets.”

 

"All businesses depend upon biodiversity in one way or another, and similarly all businesses have an impact upon biodiversity. Sustainable use of biodiversity is therefore good not only for the environment, but also important for the ongoing viability and profitability of most business models,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, adding: "Sustainable use of biodiversity also needs to recognize and value the rights of the custodians of biodiversity and promote benefit-sharing. In this regard, the anticipated entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefitsharing will open another opportunity for businesses to move towards sustainability.”

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