Business.2010 newsletter: Agribusiness

Volume 3, Issue 2 - February 2008: Agribusiness

Let us Amazon your business

Demonstrating the economic value of sustainably managed forests outside protected areas is of key importance to safeguard the Amazon.

Saving the Amazon forest, first of all, means that large areas should be strictly protected, prohibiting any sort of ‘modern’ economical activity. Strictly protected areas, however, need buffer zones to keep them from the danger of encroaching, unregulated human activities. The management of buffer zones is therefore very important. If we can turn things on their head and make the sustainable and certified management of forests an acceptable alternative that has equal — or better still — more value than clearing the forest and stripping it of its biodiversity, then we may just succeed in stopping deforestation, one step at a time. Sustainable forest management using FSC principles and criteria is one of the tools to accomplish this.

Saving the Amazon forests on the one hand, and promoting significant, sustainable economic development for local communities on the other, means unsustainable logging can and must be pushed to the sidelines. In its place, sustainable, innovative, sophisticated and certified mainstream products will take centre stage.

High-quality consumer goods
The Amazon is a supplier of countless high-quality natural ingredients and other biodiversity products that can be used in the food, beverage and cosmetics industries.

The first generation of sustainable and certified mainstream quality consumer goods has emerged in the Amazon: among them are energy drinks, snacks, wild gourmet chocolate, food dressings, food supplements, body care products, essences, cosmetics, aromatic oils, medicines, even kitchenware, furniture, shoes and fashionable rubber bags. And Oro Verde, or Green Gold, obtained in a responsible, sustainable way from tropical forests in Colombia, is just one example of how new standards are being set by Amazon products to which the rest of the world will aspire.

Ecological commodities, like the wilderness expanses, water and air, are still generally considered ‘free goods’. However, this notion is changing. We are seeing a trend where stakeholders, like towns, companies and governments are beginning to pay for the ecosystem services they use. Trends Today, market trends in Europe and the United States of America reveal that consumers appreciate natural, authentic products; goods and services they are able and willing to pay more for. The intangible quality of a product is gaining weight in people’s purchasing decisions as they value ‘the story behind the product’. As conscientious consumers, they want to buy products that have had little impact on the environment, whose processes respect human rights, and that generate fair benefits for workers at the beginning of the supply chain.

This is one reason behind the growth we are seeing in international markets of sustainable quality products from the Amazon. Numerous international trends underscore the direction that is being taken towards sustainability, including:

  • *Consumer demand for authenticity in the products they use *Increasing global calls to eradicate poverty *Increasing pressure to protect and conserve nature *New concerns among corporate leaders about the deterioration of natural resources *A growing emphasis on transparency throughout the international business world *The mounting influence of ideas for corporate social responsibility *An increasing number of multinationals and large commercial supermarket chains selling sustainable products in growing numbers
  • A call to action
    All of us can contribute to take this further. Entrepreneurs, investors, politicians, civil servants, consumers – all of us have a part to play. And, with renewed focus, you and I can bring about this change.

    Let us Amazon our business!

    • United Nations
    • United Nations Environment Programme