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"Sourcing with Respect"

UEBT (Union for Ethical BioTrade) is a non-profit association that promotes sourcing with respect. This means it supports and verifies companies’ commitments to innovation and sourcing of biodiversity-based natural ingredients in South(ern) Africa, we are using “biotrade” because this is the term.

Created with the support of UNCTAD, UEBT brings together companies, communities, civil society and other stakeholders to develop and implement good practices that make sure that natural ingredients are sourced in a respectful way. These practices are collectively known as the UEBT standard.

The UEBT Standard, which builds on the BioTrade Principles and Criteria, includes the following principles:

  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Sustainable use of biodiversity
  • Fair and equitable benefit-sharing
  • Local economic development
  • Compliance with national and international laws
  • Respect for human, labour, and indigenous rights

Fair and equitable benefit-sharing under the UEBT Standard extends to all activities along the value chain, with specific provisions on compliance with legal and ethical requirements on access and benefit sharing (ABS) in cases of biodiversity-based research and development.

The UEBT mission is to support and validate best practices of companies which are committed to sourcing with respect. Its activities include:

  • Setting ethical sourcing practices for companies using natural ingredients

  • Verifying companies’ commitments to these practices

  • Certifying sourcing systems and specific ingredients

  • Providing advice and training for capacity development

  • Raising awareness about the challenges and opportunities associated with ethical sourcing

  • Collaborating with members, other companies and civil society partners

  • Collecting data and carrying out studies to determine impact

One of the highlights among UEBT’s activities is the “Beauty of Sourcing with Respect” conference which is organized annually in Paris, France, by UEBT and its partners. This conference brings together companies from the beauty, food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors to discuss key trends and issues associated with ethical sourcing of natural ingredients. The ABS Initiative is one of the UEBT’s main partners in organizing this conference. The ABS Initiative ensures that policy-makers, researchers and companies from biodiversity-rich countries can participate, supports visits to companies conducting biodiversity-based R&D, and facilitates ABS-related sessions.


UEBT has taken an active role on ABS to help companies using biodiversity for their products to source their natural ingredients in a way that is ABS compliant. This has involved various activities like revising R&D workflows, verification of ingredient risk assessments against local rules and regulations, ABS portfolio assessments, provision of regulatory updates, advice on ABS permit negotiations, and training of staff and government officials.

Partly with the financial support of the ABS Initiative, UEBT has also created a number of useful manuals and fact sheets on ABS and benefit-sharing.