The France-based company specialises in natural ingredients and has been working on the Guiana partnership for over three years.
“Guiana is a French territory but it is also a door to the Amazon, a region with very high natural biodiversity” said Silab’s general manager Thierry Cruchon.
Group to oversee access to forest resources
The partnership centres on the development of the Quality Pole – an organisation which will oversee access to the forest’s resources for all prospecting companies, not just Silab.
The company will help set up the pole as well as advising on the sorts of compounds that might be of interest to the cosmetics companies and how to market them to an international market.
However, the pole will not be run by Silab and will be responsible for future partnerships between the region and other cosmetic, pharmaceutical and nutritional companies.
Region to be co-patent holder
In return for help in developing the pole, Silab will have access to plants of interest in the region. If these plants are found to be bioactive and have potential cosmetics uses that can be patented, the region will become the co-patent holder along with Silab.
Furthermore, Cruchon explained the right price would always be paid for the ingredients and the company would help the region develop farms to cultivate the plants of interest.
“We wanted to build a longer lasting, sustainable relationship with the region and the quality pole seemed to be a way of making it a more equal relationship,” he told CosmeticsDesign.com.
Although this is the first agreement of its kind for the company, similar relationships are in the pipeline in other regions.
However, Cruchon was clear that the nature of each agreement depends entirely on the needs of the stakeholder and the company in each region.
“In the Guiana region we are not dealing with local communities directly, we are dealing with the local government. This was the best option in this case but it may be specific to this region and not repeated elsewhere,” he said.
The company has applied to be a member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade, an organisation that aims to promote ethical trade in biodiversity-based products, and is waiting to be accepted.
“We felt this organisation provided a good platform to exchange ideas and discuss the problems faced, because today the relationships between companies and stakeholders in the field are very complex,” he added.