Markets working to support sustainable development

The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT)

The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) is a certification scheme for the ethical sourcing of all natural ingredients within a member's products (10/13). Members are allowed to set their own targets for compliance within the supply chains that source the ingredients of their products, provided it is made public.

This standard has minimum requirements and is designed to guide members towards full compliance with the Principles and Criteria of UEBT. Membership is conditional on continuous compliance and members are expected to show improvement. Verification is by a 3rd party organisation every 3 years, and members are required to submit their own reports in intervening years. Members must also develop a biodiversity management system within 3 years.

The Principles are:

  • Conservation of Biodiversity
  • Sustainable Use of Biodiversity
  • Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of biodiversity
  • Socio-economic sustainability (productive, financial and market management)
  • Compliance with national and international legislation
  • Respect for the rights of actors involved in BioTrade activities.

The Standard can be used for product or organisation compliance.Compliance with the standard is to be claimed only for business-to-business communication i.e. it does not have a consumer facing label. 

Market coverage: 

Turnover of UEBT-members was 3.10 billion EUR in 2013, up from 1.75 billion EUR in 2010. There are 39 trading members, and 20 affiliate members.

Background information: 

It is based upon the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the BioTrade Initiative from UNCTAD. It is designed to fill a gap that currently exists between the CBD principles and business activities on the ground.The Union for Ethical BioTrade was formed in 2007 and has its Secretariat in Amsterdam. A Brazilian office is based in Sao Paulo.

There are 11 people on the board, which meets twice yearly, and there is a strong developing country representation. Observers of the board are UNCTAD, CBD and the International Finance Corporation.

There are 2 types of membership: trading and affiliate. Costs of membership vary depending on the type of membership and size of organisation, however the minimum fee is €250 and maximum is €30,000 per year.  

Funding source: 

The Union is financed by membership fees and contributions from donors. 

Notable information: 

The UEBT is a full member of the ISEAL Alliance and the standard is consistent with both ISEAL and WTO guidelines on the setting of environmental and social standards.

UEBT has an Ethical BioTrade Community Grant Programme that is designed to assist small local suppliers meet the principles and criteria.