Study on Global Trade and its Impact on Biodiversity

Researchers showed that it is essential to assess not only the local operations of companies but also the complete supply chain as 30% of global species threats are due to international trade. For a large proportion this is caused by agricultural commodities such as coffee, tea, sugar, textiles and fish.

Flow map of threats to species caused by exports
from Malaysia (reds), and imports into Germany
6 June 2012 – The article, which was published in Nature, linked global trade networks of commodities to the IUCN Red List which includes species and their threats. It shows that developing countries are destroying their biodiversity to be able to export products to developed nations. Almost half of the biodiversity footprint of the net importers is linked to imports produced in other countries. Among the largest net importers are the USA and Japan, followed by countries in the European Union. A large proportion of their biodiversity impact takes place in South-East Asia and Africa with Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia being the top four exporters.

The article clearly shows that when the impact of companies on biodiversity is assessed, the supply chain should be analysed as well. It also shows that local solutions are not sufficient to halt the loss of biodiversity. Both consumers and producers are responsible for the loss of biodiversity that is caused by the international trade of agricultural commodities. However, for the exporting countries, the matter is a complicated one because a large part of their economy depends on the export of raw materials. The article proposes harmonisation of legislation in the producing and importing countries, as well as extension of supply chain certification to the complex international trade routes as possible solutions.

You can find the article here.

You can find an interactive map depicting the trade routes and the threats to species it causes here.

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