Certifying biodiversity: the Union for Ethical BioTrade and the search for ethical sourcing

Drossos Stamboulakis, Jay Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article is concerned with the potential for private action to improve sourcing practices to promote biodiversity. More specifically this article examines the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) and its verification and certification of ‘sourcing with respect’: that is, sourcing ingredients from biodiversity in a way that is respectful to both the local environment and people. While key international biodiversity treaties and instruments—such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Nagoya Protocol—encourage public actors to work with private actors to develop methods for the sustainable use of biological resources, our examination of UEBT shows that there are concerns over the standards, implementation and enforcement of private initiatives. In conclusion, we suggest two key ways in which transnational or public/private initiatives can be strengthened. First, via more proactively promoting public/private cooperation, including about how certification is used to reduce inconsistency and consumer overload or confusion. Secondly, by placing greater emphasis on mechanisms that place pressure on supply chain actors to source in ways that promote biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-528
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Environmental Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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