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Friday 13 November 2020

New report on ethical consumption

Written by Jess Berlin

New report on ethical consumption

A new report commissioned by the Union for Ethical BioTrade, an international non-profit organisation that works to regenerate nature and conserve biodiversity, says consumers have an increasing awareness of the planet’s biodiversity.

A majority of consumers surveyed in the report, feel that ‘companies have a moral obligation to ensure that they have a positive impact on people and biodiversity.’ More than 70 per cent of consumers surveyed suggested their trust is higher when a brand’s commitment to ethical sourcing of biodiversity is independently verified.

The data was published in the 2020 UEBT Biodiversity Barometer, an ongoing set of research updated each year, that has spanned more than a decade. Because 2020 marks the end of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, 2020 is also the last year of the Barometer. These ten years have seen increased discussions and efforts on biodiversity, with biodiversity gaining unparalleled momentum as a global issue of concern.

“I am extremely encouraged by UEBT’s contributions to the Convention’s objectives over the last decade, particularly with regards to identifying the steady increase of consumer awareness on biodiversity, ethical and sustainable sourcing as documented in the Biodiversity Barometer,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

It is clear that Generation Z and Millennials are best informed about biodiversity and increasingly likely to investigate a company's actions. This year’s Barometer also shared some insights from Spate, a US agency founded by two ex-Google staffers, that found that consumer searches around ‘biodiversity’ is on the increase in the US market. Searches around ‘sustainability,’ ‘green beauty’ and ‘ethical’ have risen as well. The search data was run only for the US and took place during the post-lockdown period in October 2020.
 
Disappointingly, the Barometer also showed that the last decade was one of low consumer trust. UEBT’s research found a gap in consumer confidence related to a company’s actions: in other words, consumers have higher awareness of biodiversity and think it’s important, but they have lower confidence that companies are protecting biodiversity. In the 2020 report, 82% of respondents believe that companies have a moral obligation to ensure a positive impact on people and biodiversity, but only 41% of those surveyed felt confident that companies are paying serious attention to ethical sourcing of biodiversity. However, trust levels increased if consumers could know that sourcing actions were independently verified (72 per cent were then confident).

Trust has indeed become the new normal, with transparency ranking higher on the list of consumer expectations each year. When asked about what information respondents wanted to see on product packaging, the highest ranks were given, in order: the list of product ingredients; origins of ingredients; and the impact on biodiversity. Respondents in France and Brazil were particularly interested in these issues.
 
“Once again we see that biodiversity awareness keeps rising,” said Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT’s Executive Director and a leading global expert on ethical sourcing. “Companies have a tremendous opportunity to develop people’s trust through transparency and especially through on-the-ground actions that conserve, sustainably use, and restore biodiversity.  All of us depend on biodiversity to survive and to thrive.  As the UN Decade on Biodiversity ends, so do we close this decade-plus of research. We look forward to deepening our core work to promote ethical sourcing of ingredients from biodiversity.”

Ms. Mrema added, “It is clear that we need to scale up ambition in support of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. We need smarter, more efficient policies to safeguard biodiversity as much as we need to find ways to integrate the values of biodiversity into boardrooms.”

To read the summary report

To find out more about The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT)

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