About UEBT


What do the initials UEBT stand for?

UEBT stands for Union for Ethical BioTrade.

What does Ethical BioTrade mean?

Ethical BioTrade refers to the sourcing i.e. activities of collection, production, transformation, and commercialization of natural ingredients (from plants and/or animals) that respect biodiversity and all the partners along the supply chain including local communities involved.

When was UEBT created and why?

The Union for Ethical BioTrade is a non-profit association promoting the ethical sourcing of natural ingredients. It was created in 2007 as a spin off from the United Nations specifically out of the international recognition that additional efforts were needed to engage the private sector with BioTrade practices.

What is UEBT's mission?

UEBT's mission consist in supporting and validating best practices of companies committed to ethical sourcing and innovation of natural ingredients for the benefit of people and biodiversity.

How does UEBT complete its mission?

UEBT works towards the promotion of ethical sourcing through:

  • Membership: UEBT supports member companies in developing ethical sourcing practices. Members get access to expertise, training materials, networking opportunities and other useful resources.
  • Certifications: UEBT certifications assure that natural ingredients are sourced with respect for people and biodiversity by attesting its compliance with the UEBT Ethical BioTrade Standard.
  • Technical support: UEBT provides advisory services both to members and to other stakeholders from the private and public sector alike on various issues such as Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS).
  • Awareness raising: UEBT works towards raising business awareness on biodiversity by organizing each year its annual Beauty of Sourcing with Respect (BSR) conference. UEBT also tracks biodiversity awareness around the world through its flagship annual consumer survey: the Biodiversity Barometer.

What is the UEBT Ethical BioTrade Standard?

The UEBT Ethical BioTrade Standard is a set of seven BioTrade Principles and Criteria defining how to best achieve sourcing practices of natural ingredients that respect people and biodiversity by agreeing to the following:

  1. Commit to the conservation of biodiversity
  2. Commit to the sustainable use of biodiversity
  3. Promote fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of biodiversity
  4. Commit to socio-economic sustainability
  5. Comply with national and international legislation
  6. Respect the rights of actors involved in BioTrade activities
  7. Respect and comply with land property rights, right of use and access to natural resources.

How credible is the UEBT Ethical BioTrade Standard?

The UEBT Standard builds on the seven BioTrade Principles and Criteria as developed by the UNCTAD BioTrade initiative. It is internationally recognized and externally validated. The UEBT is a full member of ISEAL Alliance, the global association for social and environmental standards systems, and the Ethical BioTrade Standard has been designed in accordance with its requirements as well as those of the World Trade Organization (WTO). To assure credibility of the Ethical BioTrade Standard, the UEBT also relies on 3rd party independent audits for its verification system, using accredited Certification Bodies to carry out the audits of UEBT Trading members on its behalf.

What products does UEBT work on?

UEBT's area of expertise is specialty natural ingredients in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors. Specialty natural ingredients are ingredients used to add a specific benefit to the core recipe of a product, benefiting either production or the end consumer e.g. Chamomile in herbal tea, Jasmine in perfumes, Amazonian ingredients in cosmetic products, etc.

What is the reach of UEBT’s program?

In 2016, the UEBT had 34 Trading Members in 16 countries from Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, which were gradually promoting Ethical BioTrade practices in over 4721 supply chains. UEBT Trading Members employed 17026 employees and worked with 3161 natural ingredients throughout their activities.

In 2017, UEBT has further increased the scale of its reach thanks to a number of Trading Members on a constant upward curve and through UEBT consultancies for non-members companies on ethical sourcing and Access and Benefit Sharing issues.

What are the impacts of UEBT’s program?

The UEBT program intends to have environmental, social and economic impacts.

UEBT promotes the conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity with the aim to conserve natural resources for future generations, to promote the incredible richness of the ecosystems and let animals, plants and people thrive and survive.

UEBT and its members are also working towards implementing better and safer work environment and conditions where human rights are respected and workers receive fair wages. Finally, UEBT attempts to promote sustainable business growth, to implement fair trade relations with equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of biodiversity and to advance local development improving communities’ livelihoods.

How does UEBT monitor and evaluate its programs?

Analyzing the impact of UEBT's activities is crucial for continuous improvement of UEBT's work and standard and that of its members. To measure its impact, UEBT has implemented a Monitoring & Evaluation system based on regular collection of data through audits and reports to evaluate UEBT’s reach and through case studies and evaluation of selected activities to measure UEBT’s impact.

How is UEBT funded?

UEBT is a member-based association, which is financed through membership fees and contributions from donors. The association is also financed thanks to joint projects on Ethical BioTrade with other international organizations, governments and/or companies.

About UEBT membership


Who can become a UEBT member?

Private and public companies, trade associations, NGOs, community producers or collectors, national BioTrade programs, and any other organizations active in the BioTrade arena can apply for UEBT membership. There are 2 types of membership in UEBT: Trading Members, directly involved in the supply chain of BioTrade goods and services and Affiliate Members that are supportive of the principles of Ethical BioTrade but are not themselves directly involved in trading.

Is UEBT membership suitable for my company?

UEBT uses a tailored-made systematic approach focusing not only on one single angle of sustainability but taking into account all its different aspects from environmental, social to economics. UEBT is specialized in working with companies which have more complex structures with multiple supply chains and ingredients. If your company does not fit other organisations’ product-based certifications but is rather looking for a system approach, then UEBT membership might be the right choice for you.

How to become a UEBT member?

Prospective members are required to submit an application form to the UEBT Secretariat. See the full process and the associated costs for becoming a Trading Member here and an Affiliate Member here.

What are the benefits of joining UEBT as a company?

Companies joining UEBT advance their ethical sourcing practices thus contributing to biodiversity conservation and improved local livelihoods in the long run.

The UEBT guides its members in structuring their ethical sourcing practices, securing their supply chains while responding to consumer increasing expectations towards naturalness. Implementing sourcing practices respecting both people and biodiversity enhance your image, setting your company apart in the world market and subsequently improving your company's brand value.

UEBT membership also supports companies to develop sourcing approaches that respond to increasing attention for sustainability of natural ingredients and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and helps and verifies compliance with ensuing international and national regulations. UEBT advises companies on how to negotiate the regulatory minefield of trading with local producers all over the world.  Members also get access to expertise, training materials, networking opportunities and other useful resources.

Who are the UEBT members?

UEBT members are companies from the cosmetics, pharmaceutical or food sectors as well as organizations (NGOs, IGOs) that commit to Ethical BioTrade. As of January 2018, UEBT has 34 Trading Members, 16 Affiliate Members and 8 Provisional Members in the process of completing full membership. Internationally famous brands like Natura and Weleda are among UEBT Trading Members. See UEBT Members here.

What does UEBT Trading Membership imply?

As UEBT Trading Member, a company agrees to respect the Ethical BioTrade Standard to shape their biodiversity sourcing practices towards the promotion of the sustainable use of natural ingredients, while ensuring that all contributors along the supply chain are paid fair prices and share the benefits derived from the use of biodiversity. They have to develop Ethical Sourcing Systems that implement further the Ethical BioTrade Standard in their own operations as well as throughout their supply chains. Members adopt a gradual approach towards reaching compliance with the Standard, giving priority to those ingredients that are most relevant for ethical sourcing of biodiversity.

How can my company use the UEBT membership logo?

UEBT members can illustrate their commitment to Ethical BioTrade by communicating their membership to customers, partners and other stakeholders. Only full members are allowed to use the membership logo and issue clarifying statements regarding UEBT, after notifying it first to UEBT Secretariat. The membership logo can be used on different types of corporate communication materials of members (websites, catalogues, business cards etc.) but cannot be used on products or packaging. Non-members can at no time use the membership logo. 

About Certification


What certifications does UEBT offer?

UEBT offers 3 different certification programs: 2 supply chains certifications (UEBT Internal Monitoring System Certification & UEBT/UTZ IMS Herbal Tea Certification) and 1 system certification (Ethical Sourcing System Certification). Only UEBT Trading Members can apply for UEBT certification schemes. Find out more here.

What are the costs of certification?

The costs for a certification, kept to a minimum by UEBT, are dependent on a number of factors e.g. number of supply chains to be certified etc. For more information please contact: [email protected]

Why are there different UEBT labels?

UEBT certificate holders can make on-product claims using different labels depending on the kind of certification they have.

Certificate Holders from the Herbal tea program can use on-product UTZ label, meaning it comes from UEBT certified farming practices that respect people and the planet.

Ethical Sourcing System certificate holders can make B2C product claims that cover the biodiversity-based ingredients in the product carrying the label. They also have the opportunity, provided they meet all the requirements, to make ingredient claims assuring that the flagship natural ingredient of the labeled product is certified against UEBT Standard.

What kind of products carry the different labels?

For now, only companies holding a UEBT/UTZ Herbal Tea certification can use UTZ label and mention UEBT on their packages (brands like Meßmer, Milford and Westcliff for instance). With the launch of the ESS certification the UEBT labels will be progressively found on food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

Where can I find UEBT certified products?

For the moment, only UEBT certified Herbal teas under the UEBT/UTZ Herbal Tea program can be found on supermarket shelves in 17 European countries, spanning from Germany, the Netherlands to Cyprus and Greece. The certified herbal teas are expected to extend further to countries like Japan, Canada, Iran and Korea. The products carry the UTZ logo and mention UEBT on the pack. As of December 2017, 10 well-known retailers offer UEBT/UTZ certified herbal teas, including Albert Heijn, Aldi Süd Migros, Lidl, Edeka, Hofer, Netto, Dagrofa, Coop Trading and more.

What is the difference between UEBT supply chain certifications and others like Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, and Fairtrade?

UEBT has arguably the only Standard that has ventured into the certification of complex supply chains i.e. supply chains with hundreds of ingredients and products with tens of ingredients. UEBT offers guidance to supply chains that will not "fit" in the normal conventional certification schemes.

How do I become a UEBT approved Certification Body (CB)?

Certification Bodies interested in conducting third party audits against the UEBT Standard shall have required qualifications. Find more here.