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Initiative for Responsible Carnauba


Sustainable livelihoods, Carnauba production and preservation of biodiversity in northeast Brazil

The organisations participating in the Initiative for Responsible Carnauba are supporting suppliers to improve conditions in the Carnauba wax sourcing areas, as well as finding new approaches to the many social and environmental challenges in the associated industry. Ultimately, our aim is to foster a responsible Carnauba wax production that respects demands of people and helps to preserve biodiversity in the Carnauba wax producing areas in the unique semiarid (Caatinga) biome of northeast Brazil. 

Participants of the initiative for Responsible Carnauba during a field trip in Brazil, October 2018,  ©  GIZ/Louisa Lösing

Participants of the initiative for Responsible Carnauba during a field trip in Brazil, October 2018, © GIZ/Louisa Lösing

Environmental and social challenges have come to light in some of the carnauba wax extraction areas in northeast Brazil, including high rates of deforestation (of the native carnauba palm trees), degradation of local biodiversity, persistent drought, rapid expansion of invasive species, as well as poor working conditions and low pay. These problems are often systemic, with a wide range of factors involved that contribute to the challenges.

We have established our initiative: “Sustainable livelihoods, Carnauba production and preservation of biodiversity in northeast Brazil”, or in short “Initiative for Responsible Carnauba” to complement existing efforts of the Brazilian Government (Environmental Ministry, Labour Ministry), the Working Group on Carnauba by inPACTO, and the Sustainable Carnauba project by the Brazilian wax industry and the NGO Associação Caatinga. Our initiative supports the efforts of local groups by catalysing engagement among buying companies of high quality Carnauba grades in Europe and elsewhere.

To date, we have developed an action plan focusing on good harvesting practices, traceability and transparency of Carnauba wax origins, and shared learning and training. We will test new approaches first, and then implement particularly promising ones. We plan to involve as many suppliers and industry players as possible, as well as social interest groups. This includes wax processors in Brazil, and other important players who affect working conditions.  We are sharing our plans with additional buyers and suppliers to gain their participation.

As part of the initiative, UEBT will check whether harvesting conditions of the participating Carnauba wax suppliers comply with the UEBT Ethical BioTrade Standard. The standard contains principles that address human rights, including all International Labour Organisation (ILO) core conventions (minimum age for work, forced labour, etc.) and also adequate working conditions, as well as other principles such as biodiversity conservation and local economic development.

Carnauba wax suppliers can step forward to participate by joining UEBT and submitting an improvement plan that shows they are making gradual and verifiable steps to meet the UEBT Ethical BioTrade standard. UEBT will verify that the suppliers are delivering as promised, in collaboration with external auditors.

In light of the sector‘s challenges, it is necessary to have an effective improvement initiative that brings together buyers and processors of Carnauba wax products.  We welcome additional participants, who can express their interest by writing to UEBT at


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Read the interview of

Lara Pontes

Current participants from industry and civil society to the Initiative for Responsible Carnauba are:

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH participates through the Project "Private Business Action for Biodiversity," commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in the framework of the International Climate Initiative.


Factsheet for Brazilian Carnauba processing companies that want to join us: