More on BioTrade

BioTrade is regulated by the following BioTrade Principles and Criteria, as determined by UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative (UNCTAD, 2011). In order to be biodiversity friendly, a company must promote and/or support...

Although the BioTrade is a specific initiative lead by the UNCTAD, its tenets link small businesses and communities to sustainable livelihoods and business practices that are both economically viable and biodiversity-friendly. Thus, many of these tenets can be, and are, expanded to business and industry as a whole, while not necessarily to the same extent or through the same means, to affect overall sustainability. Many of the larger scale and less direct business and private sector is outlined in Implementation on the Company Scale. Industry can help conserve resources and meet the evolving concerns raised by consumers regarding sustainability by sourcing biodiversity in an ethically sound manner across all supply chains.

BioTrade calls for cooperation between small businesses and communities, governments, universities, trade organizations, chambers of commerce and other regional and international organizations. It is a multi-stakeholder approach that integrates biodiversity with global and regional instruments and processes in major economic sectors.

UNCTAD proposes the following approaches to the BioTrade principles, many of which can be and are expanded to current business practices across most sectors:

The effectiveness of BioTrade is currently being evaluated by the BioTrade Intitative, a subset of the UNCTAD. Although the formal assessment has not been completed, numerous case studies point to the potential BioTrade has to aid conservation efforts and educate populations in the immediate vicinity of possible hotspot areas.

BioTrade and Biodiversity: The Basic Tenets

Conservation of Biodiversity

The conservation of biodiversity entails preserving and maintaining primary ecosystem characteristics and natural habitats, genetic variability, and ecological processes. Activities, therefore, should be developed according to the management plans determined for such natural areas which, in the spirit of the “value chain approach,” act in coordination with the relevant authorities and actors involved.

For example, the Association of Small Producers of Talamanca, in Costa Rica, harvests araza fruit in the Talamanca Caribbean Biological Corridor (see Hotspots) as part of an ecosystem services payment program. The program creates a market for the indigenous population: the population receives payment for the maintenance of the Atlantic Moist Forest while receiving extra income from harvesting the araza fruit. The fruit is then sold in fair trade and organic markets as juice and pulp in Europe and the United States (Business.2010 Newsletter, Vol.5 Issue 2, 2010).

Sustainable Use of Biodiversity

The sustainable use of resources is supported by the management of agro-biodiversity, technical standards for environmental services, and compiled information and records of experiences to contribute to the expanding collective knowledge of the value biodiversity.

The Cuban fishing village of Carahatas is an example of a community where conservation goals are being met through creating new livelihoods. Before biotrade models were introduced, fishers used techniques such as bottom trawling, which damaged spawning areas for many commercial fish species. Once it was noticed that fish stocks were being critically depleted, local fisherman collaborated with university researchers to develop sustainable techniques to sustainably harvest native marine sponges. Marine sponges have now become the most important source of income in Carahatas and fills niche markets in Europe (Business.2010 Newsletter, Vol.5 Issue 2, 2010).

Socio-economic Sustainability

Beyond the sustainable use of resources, there must also be socio-economic sustainability. The potential markets for a given product must exist, financial profitability must be within reach, and the negative impacts on local practices, especially those that maintain diversification and food security within said communities, should be avoided. Extensive organization and management capacity is required of actors and related institutions. The UNCTAD suggests a system that effectively coordinates activities and a strategy that holds a high degree of financial sustainability in the long run.

Local communities in Bolivia, for instance, have implemented sustainable management plans that allow for the export of skins and other products derived from Calman Yacare, a species of crocodile, to markets in Italy and the United States. In Italy alone, sales are over 1.4 million USD, seeing a 282 percent increase since 2003. The adopted management plans ensure that the harvesting rate of the Calman Yacare does not exceed its reproduction rate, and that the community maintains the environment so that the crocodile continues to thrive (Business.2010 Newsletter, Vol.5 Issue 2, 2010).

Respect for the rights of actors involved in BioTrade activities

Local communities are essential in the implementation of plans to commercialize biodiversity-based products and the conservation of sustainable use of resources. To guarantee sustainable trade, the impact of productive systems on these people must be identified, and their rights protected. In addition, traditional knowledge should be maintained or even revised, even in the case that there is no direct contribution to “the value chain.” BioTrade should operate in the context of traditional practices and are among the many means to contribute to the appreciation and conservation of biodiversity.

Certification Programs

Certification programs hold the best promise to respond to emerging demands for biodiversity friendly products. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) promotes environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests because of their worldwide standard, and the Principles of Forest Stewardship.

In the case of FSC certified forests in Russia, local communities and forest workers saw tangible improvement in life standards. Certified companies significantly improved their environmental reputation, as well as made their operations more efficient and strengthened their presence in environmentally sensitive markets in Western Europe, Japan, and North America (Business.2010 Newsletter, Vol.5 Issue 2, 2010).

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)’s report “Great Apes & Logging” concludes that FSC certification offers a good assurance for the preservation of great apes. This report demonstrates FSC certification is a catalyst for substantial advances that both reduce the pressures on biodiversity and allow indigenous and local populations to benefit from ecosystem services. Certification program have now begun to migrate into new industries, such as salmon fishing. Because of the success thus far, businesses have begun to press certification programs, and are integrating biodiversity further into pre-existing certification programs (i.e. organics and fair trade goods) as ways to account for biodiversity-friendliness in production.