Ethical sourcing conference aims to turn interest into action

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics industry Cosmetics

The cosmetics industry’s interest in ethical ingredients sourcing is ever growing, and the Union for Ethical BioTrade’s second conference attempts to help companies turn that interest into action.

Back in December 2008 the Union, which aims to promote the ethical trade of biodiversity-based products, announced it would encourage the cosmetics industry to adhere to the benefit sharing principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), along with biodiversity and its importance, were concepts introduced in the Union’s first conference held in April last year.

This year speakers will focus on what needs to be done, explained the executive director of the Union, Rik Kutsch Lojenga.

According to Lojenga, there has been an increase in awareness over the past year among companies about ethical sourcing practices, especially from those closest to the sourcing.

“The big challenge is now to translate this interest into good practice. A lot of work needs to be done and there is a lack of knowledge and understanding about how this can be put into practice,”​ he told

Importance of biodiversity

The first part of the conference, which will take place in Paris on April 16, will focus on the importance of biodiversity to the global economy and the cosmetics industry.

In addition, new results from the Ethical BioTrade’s barometer will be presented in order to inform delegates about the importance of biotrade to consumers.

According to the barometer – which covers consumers’ attitudes about biodiversity along with what companies and the press are saying – 81 percent of respondents would stop buying a cosmetic if it had been derived from unethical biodiversity sourcing practices.

The second part of the day will look at what companies can do to improve sourcing practices, and in some cases what they will be forced to do in order to adhere to emerging ABS legislation.

Dr Rachel Wynberg from the University of Cape Town’s Environmental Evaluation Unit will present South Africa’s ABS legislation.

Under this legislation, all companies sourcing cosmetics ingredients from South Africa’s native plants will be asked to submit ABS plans.

Lojenga explained that this can be a large and complex undertaking for some companies which may have to submit multiple proposals.

International regime

“It is important for companies to understand that with the developing international regime on ABS, and the implementation of legislation by economic and biodiversity powerhouses such as South Africa and Brazil, more and more countries will be involved,”​ he said.

For more information about the Sourcing with Respect conference please follow this link to the Union for Ethical Biotrade’s website​.

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