Natura teams up with UEBT to monitor and evaluate suppliers from Amazonia and other regions of Brazil.
“One day, a producer of Carapa guianensis from Amazonia will be able to proudly say to a potential buyer for his product: Look, I have the Biodiversity Certification from Natura!”. This future scenario is one of the results that Renata Tozaki, Bioagriculture Researcher for Natura Sustainable Technologies Group, would like to see come out of the development of an inspection system for Natura production chains, in partnership with UEBT (Union for Ethical Bio Trade), a non-governmental organization based in the Netherlands.
According to Sergio Camargo, Sustainable Technologies Manager at Natura, the original concept dates back to 2000, when the company started to use raw materials from the biodiversity on a more regular basis. “We wanted these products to have some kind of certification of origin, with specific requirements for social and environmental assessment, as this would inspire more confidence”, he says.
Up until then, Natura had relied on external certifications, but these were not specific to each product. ”For instance, organic certification focuses on the non-use of chemical raw-materials, but if I wanted to certify chestnut, an asset from the forest, it didn’t make sense to focus on chemical products, which were obviously not used in this case. Therefore, in 2006 we felt the need for a new model designed specifically for vegetable production models”, says Sergio. As co-founder of UEBT, in 2013 Natura invited the entity to create a monitoring and inspection system that would later evolve to become an internal certification model.
Various steps were taken to define the system design, requirements, protocol, principles and tools. Lots of meetings were held with different departments of Natura, field researchers and producer communities. “We then conducted two pilot experiments to make the necessary adjustments. We also conducted training sessions for internal auditors”, explains Renata.
“Once we had designed and tested everything in the pilot chains, we developed a process of internal training for the teams designated to apply the system in the field”, adds Sergio. “In 2014, we were able to do this in six areas, and this year, the goal is to extend it to 26 supplier communities.”
It was a meticulous work that required a lot of patience, as there were no precedents with the characteristics we were looking for. Sergio hopes that by the beginning of 2016, it will be possible to obtain a report from a third party in order to certify the system: “We don’t want to rush things, as this is a process that requires maturity. The idea is that the process will be complete by the middle of next year.”
The crowning glory of the project will be the creation of a biodiversity certification guaranteed by Natura and UEBT, recognized internationally, whose effects extend to a comprehensive chain – from producers in the most remote parts of Brazil, to end users of our products.
Above all, the certification endorses Natura’s social and environmental commitment. “While we carry out field research to evaluate this, an internal committee is discussing the results and the possible improvements we can make. It is a very dynamic process that is not yet complete, but is constantly evolving”, said Sergio.
Renata adds: “we understand that the suppliers also need to improve, both in terms of production methods and organizational structure, and this system will help in this. The certification will enable suppliers to evolve along with us.