UNCTAD and Union for Ethical BioTrade team up to save biodiversity

22 May 2019

The UN organization and nonprofit have signed a partnership to get businesses to protect plants and animals by adopting eco-friendly production and trade practices

The most thorough state-of-the-planet study ever done recently warned that a million species are at risk of extinction due to human activity and called for urgent action to address the crisis.

UNCTAD is responding to the crisis through its BioTrade programme and recently partnered with the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) to get more companies to adopt practices that benefit the planet’s plants and animals as much as its people.

The UN organization and nonprofit association signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 7 May at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“To curb the loss of biodiversity, we all need to work together. And companies are an essential actor in the equation,” said Lucas Assunção, who heads UNCTAD’s trade and environment arm.


“At UNCTAD, we believe that under the right conditions trade can create the necessary incentives for businesses to protect biodiversity,” Mr. Assunção said.

“We are delighted to formalize our collaboration with UEBT in promoting the adoption of BioTrade within the private sector,” he said.

Guidelines to protect plants and animals

The goal of the partnership is to get more companies to adopt practices that benefit the planet’s plants and animals as much as its people. Both organizations have guidelines to help businesses do just that.

UNCTAD has developed the BioTrade Principles and Criteria to ensure companies produce and sell goods and services derived from native biodiversity in ways that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

And UEBT provides an ethical sourcing certification system used by global companies like Weleda and Natura Cosmetics.

“UEBT has been a long-standing partner of UNCTAD for engaging business in BioTrade,” said Rik Kutsch Lojenga, the nonprofit’s executive director.

“With this MoU, we’ll deepen our partnership to encourage that companies’ innovation and sourcing of natural ingredients contribute to a world in which people and biodiversity thrive,” he said.

UNCTAD’s new BioTrade programme, Linking trade, biodiversity and sustainable development, was launched in April 2018 with the financial support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Our work to make trade greener has a bigger impact when we join forces with organizations like UEBT.

That’s why, in the spirit of Sustainable Development Goal 17, UNCTAD builds partnerships with NGOs, governments, international organizations and businesses.