Sourcing With Respect for People and Biodiversity - Consumer Insights & Company practices

Photo Credit - Unsplash - Nordwood Themes

Photo Credit - Unsplash - Nordwood Themes

On May 20, 2019 the UEBT held a conference in Paris that gathered more than 300 people from the industry, Ngo’s and brands. The “Beauty of Sourcing with Respect” is an amazing event held every year to learn more about the advances made in terms of consumer knowledge, industry practices and regulations concerning the ethical sourcing of natural ingredients (and the impact on biodiversity and people).

Since its creation in 2009 this organization has been growing in importance and has become a reference in the field of Biodiversity sourcing and Access and Benefit sharing. During the conference, small and major companies were together to share experience and discuss the new axis around the topic of sourcing.


Why is Biodiversity an important topic in the Beauty Industry?

Today, the beauty industry is increasingly using natural ingredients, from organic companies to traditional companies, the sourcing of natural ingredients means collecting ingredients from biodiversity. These ingredients are usually collected in countries where biodiversity is rich but communities living from this biodiversity are not, but the knowledge of these collectivities, transmitted from generation to generation, is huge.

We see more and more Cosmetic Companies participating in the event, and this is encouraging for the future of our industry.

What are consumers thinking? What did we learn this year

Since 2009, the UEBT has been running a Biodiversity Barometer every year, measuring the consumers’ awareness and insights on the subject. One part of the barometer is a quantitative survey among thousands of consumers around the world. In 2019, the survey was run in Japan, China, Vietnam and South Korea. The other part of the research involves street interviews, allowing to collect valuable insights.

This year’s results show that the awareness of Biodiversity is quite high, as a growing 83% of Asian consumers interviewed know what is Biodiversity (compared to the 72% in Western Countries average of France, USA, UK, Germany, and Brazil). This year survey confirmed the consumer preference for products coming from companies respecting people and biodiversity. Why? Because this has a positive impact of society (81% in Asia) and it makes the feel good (78%).

UEBT- Biodiversity Barometer - Results among total base (1000 people per country), Asia results in 2019, 78% refers to the Asian results. France, Germany, UK and USA - results from 2018 survey.

UEBT- Biodiversity Barometer - Results among total base (1000 people per country), Asia results in 2019, 78% refers to the Asian results. France, Germany, UK and USA - results from 2018 survey.


This research confirms that consumers are more and more demanding and are increasingly looking for more transparency. Trust among companies is low and they want to be better informed on the list of ingredients, the sourcing and the ethical practices that companies and brands conduct when sourcing an ingredient.

Download the results of the UEBT 2019 Barometer here.

Sourcing Natural Ingredients - Ethics and Respecting Local Communities

Sourcing ethically means respecting the planet, making sure we stop the exhaustion of plant species, but also making sure the social aspect is respected.

Biodiversity is a major source of ingredients for cosmetics. For L’Oreal, one of the sponsor of the event and speaker, more than 59% of the raw materials used for cosmetics are renewable, representing 1,600 ingredients from 340 plant species sourced in over 100 countries.

According to Nisrine Zaaraoui, Responsible Sourcing Manager at l’Oréal: “biodiversity is decreasing, this is an environmental issue but also social issue”. Traceability is key, including the origin, method of cultivation, etc. but this is only the first step of a 4 step program from the the L’Oreal Solidarity Sourcing. This project initiated in 2010 has initiated more than 40 projects, helping more than 47 000 people from communities in 13 countries.

ABS - Access and Benefit sharing - What it is and why is this key?

When sourcing an ingredient from biodiversity, there are certain rules to follow concerning the access to the ingredients and the sharing of the benefits with local communities that hold most of the knowledge and live from this natural richness.

‘Cosmetics companies are very involved as these companies are exposed, with strong story telling, and need to comply with the rules of Access and Benefit Sharing’ says Maria Julia Oliva, Deputy Director of the UEBT.

This year, one of the key subject discussed and sharing of practices were around ABS. Following the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol and related EU rules, ABS is an issue receiving increasing attention in corporate reporting, especially in the beauty sector. In 2019, 17% of beauty companies made reference to ABS (up from 2% in 2009).

If you want to learn more, this video is a great summary of what ABS is all about and why this is an important subject for the Beauty Industry.


Our agency is proud to be a long time partner of the UEBT for more than 10 years and has worked on tracing the amazing evolution of the respect of people and biodiversity in consumers and company minds.

The UEBT offers amazing material for the public and companies who wish to learn more about this important topic. Don’t hesitate to visit their website: