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Sharing the beneﬁts arising from the use of biodiversity in cosmetics
Sustainability as a business platform
Natura is a Brazilian cosmetic, fragrance and personal hygiene products company that has adopted the sustainable use of Brazilian biodiversity as a business platform since 2000, combining scientiﬁc research and the wisdom of traditional communities. The communities’ traditional knowledge is leveraged to develop technologies and cosmetic solutions that allow creation of products with differentiated qualities for the consumer, while resulting in socio-environmental gains through partnerships with communities.
The greatest expression of the sustainable use of Brazilian biodiversity is the cosmetic line Natura Ekos, consisting of around 100 products.
Respecting the criteria of the Convention on Biological Diversity
When developing new products, Natura Ekos establishes partnerships with indigenous communities to source raw materials to be used in the brand’s product. To underpin this relationship, it adopts the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity, seeking to promote fair trade, sustainable use, social development and biodiversity conservation.
A “win-win” partnership
Natura Ekos is a business model that creates a virtuous cycle, generating wealth for all, whilst returning value to the place of origin:
The example of Maracatu project
The community beneﬁts from Natura’s activities because the partnership generates income for families;
Natura beneﬁts from its business platform because it generates higher revenues through products with greater appeal to consumers;
Consumers beneﬁt from Natura’s initiative because they are proposed products with high quality natural ingredients; and
Nature beneﬁts from Natura’s activities because the community takes care of its forests to ensure a better quality of life for itself and for future generations.
In March 2010, Natura launched a new toilet soap line under the Ekos brand, which includes in its formula from 20% to 50% of pure oils extracted from Brazilian fruits, such as cupuaçu, cacao, passion fruit and murumuru. Named the Maracatu Project, it marked the expansion of Natura’s proposal for the sustainable use of Brazilian biodiversity as a technological platform.
Murumuru, a species to protect
One of Ekos’ most successful products is produced from the oil of the murumuru, the fruit of a native palm tree from the Amazon Forest. The extraction work of the oil involves 157 families from the interior of the State of Pará. The murumuru was not considered very useful by the families from that region; not even as food. These trees, which have sharp thorns all along their trunks, stood in the way of the families who were ready to cut them down and replace them with more proﬁtable crops such as the Açaí berry, which is highly prized in both local and foreign markets. Murumuru was at risk of extinction in the region.
Sustainable use of the product to preserve biodiversity and promote social inclusion
Natura’s project raised awareness of the value of this species through its stewardship by the communities and, consequently, the potential for generating income by the families through the harvesting of murumuru. Through this model, Natura supported the development of a supply chain that encompasses everything from forest-mapping for identifying the species, to socio-economic and cultural evaluation, as well as the training of communities. This process generated work, promoted social inclusion in a region that faces many social challenges, and helped keep the forest standing strong. Natura estimates that the project provided the preservation of approximately 3,000 trees. From a business perspective, the project allowed Natura to innovate, using an original natural ingredient, while securing its future ingredients supply.