Friday

Consumers ready to contribute to protection of biodiversity but need information to guide their options


More and more people are aware of biodiversity. If credible information and reputable brands are available, consumers are ready to purchase biodiversityfriendly products and contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
These are among the latest insights of the Biodiversity Barometer, an annual survey of the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) on biodiversity awareness among consumers and leading beauty, food and beverage companies around the world.
Launched in 2009, the Biodiversity Barometer now distils the results of eight years of research on biodiversity awareness among 54,000 people in 16 countries. It offers valuable information - both for governments developing strategies to meet the United Nations Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and for companies shaping their approaches towards ethical sourcing of biodiversity.
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets include one on awareness by 2020, at the latest, ensuring that "people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably". The Biodiversity Barometer is one of the global indicators recognized under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
"It is particularly encouraging to see the growing biodiversity awareness around the world, with more education, and a focus on cultivating the interest of consumers in contributing to biodiversity conservation, I am confident that we can meet the 2020 target on biodiversity awareness and action", says Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the CBD.
UEBT research shows that consumers would like to contribute to biodiversity conservation, but most don't yet know how to go about it. They expect companies to respect people and biodiversity, but are currently far from confident that appropriate measures are being taken.
Consumers want to receive more information, and could be convinced by the reputation of a brand as well as authentic, externally verified stories.
"We see both a clear responsibility and opportunity for companies. Natural ingredient supply chains can be turned into positive agents of change, promoting actions that restore biodiversity and promote local development. This implies a significant challenge, of course, as it requires a paradigm shift and a true commitment to ethical sourcing, but it can be done. A few companies, including UEBT members, have already taken up the challenge and are leading the way", says Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT Executive Director.

The beauty sector offers some inspiring examples of how companies can put their supply chains to work for people and biodiversity, and UEBT research shows consumers begin to recognize this. For instance, Natura Cosmetics, a Brazilian multinational that is widely recognized for their commitment to sustainability, has pioneered sourcing with respect of biodiversity for many years. Natura makes sustainable use of the Amazon's biodiversity and actively contributes to local development, something that is verified independently by UEBT.
The natural cosmetics company Weleda is another good example. Just recently, Weleda was awarded the Swiss Ethics Award for their engagement with UEBT and their commitment to promoting ethical sourcing practices along all their natural ingredient supply chains.Also beyond UEBT, companies are acting.
For instance, The Body Shop, which is also mentioned by consumers in the UEBT survey, recently launched a new global CSR Commitment, Enrich Not Exploit, with a pledge to enrich the planet, its biodiversity and resources.

New Report Shows World Heritage Icons at Risk from Climate Change

Climate change is fast becoming one of the most significant risks for World Heritage sites, according to the report “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate” released today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“Globally, we need to better understand, monitor and address climate change threats to World Heritage sites,” said Mechtild Rössler, director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center. “As the report’s findings underscore, achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to a level well below 2 degrees Celsius is vitally important to protecting our world heritage for current and future generations.”

The new report lists 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites in 29 countries that are vulnerable to increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, intensifying weather events, worsening droughts and longer wildfire seasons. It documents climate impacts at iconic tourism sites—including Venice, Stonehenge and the Galapagos Islands—and other World Heritage sites such as South Africa’s Cape Floral Kingdom; the port city of Cartagena, Colombia; and Shiretoko National Park in Japan.

“Climate change is affecting World Heritage sites across the globe,” said Adam Markham, lead author of the report and deputy director of the Climate and Energy Program at UCS. “Some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost to the sea because of coastal erosion. Many of the world’s most important coral reefs, including in the islands of New Caledonia in the western Pacific, have suffered unprecedented coral bleaching linked to climate change this year. Climate change could eventually even cause some World Heritage sites to lose their status.”

Because World Heritage sites must have “Outstanding Universal Value,” the report recommends that the World Heritage Committee consider the risk of prospective sites becoming degraded by climate change before they add them to the list.

As the effects of climate change play out, the tourism industry and economies of some countries home to World Heritage sites may be particularly hard hit, according to the report. Tourism, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economic sectors, generates 9 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and provides one in every 11 jobs globally. Developing countries such as Nepal, home to Sagarmatha National Park and Mount Everest, and Uganda, where the mountain gorillas’ habitat in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park may be at risk, are especially reliant on tourism revenue. 

The report pointed out that tourism itself poses a threat to many World Heritage sites, especially fragile places like the Galapagos Islands, and when climate change is added to the mix it becomes a threat multiplier.
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