The trade in sustainable plant and animal products - or "BioTrade" - is growing exponentially around the world, with export values reaching $4.5 billion in 2015 from $40 million in 2003, according to a new UNCTAD report published on Saturday, December 4, 2016.
This growth is set to continue, thanks to increased environmental awareness and shifting consumer preferences, generating jobs and incomes and protecting biodiversity too, says the report, entitled BioTrade: Connecting People, Planet and Markets.
"By applying commercial self-interest to the plants and animals around us, we use trade both to create jobs and livelihoods, but also to protect rare species," UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi, said.
"For developing countries with a wealth of biodiversity, this opportunity has hardly been tapped," Dr. Kituyi said.
The results of promoting Biotrade can be impressive, says the report, which provides examples of BioTrade's success.
In north-west Vietnam, some Dzao communities have nearly doubled their incomes by processing and selling one of their region's native plants, Che-day, (ampelopsis cantoniensis), to a local company, Traphaco. Traditionally used to treat digestion-related diseases, the plant is a key ingredient in one of the company's best-selling products for common gastric and intestinal inflammations.
In Ecuador, WIKIRI is a small BioTrade company that breeds amphibians for pets and educational markets. In doing so, the company developed new breeding technologies to help recover critically endangered species of amphibian.
To seize this opportunity, policy makers must enable new products to get to market faster, by removing unnecessary non-tariff measures, easing access to finance for small business, and supporting small business to upgrade their business skills, and developing sustainable supply chains too, the report says.