What is biodiversity? – Survey in France, Germany, UK and USA
22 October 2009. Increased public awareness on the subject of biodiversity is considered key to curbing biodiversity loss. With 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, fast approaching, the necessity to preserve biodiversity is increasingly being brought into the public eye. Yet how many people are aware of what biodiversity is?
Tracking biodiversity awareness among consumers and industry is the principle aim of the Union for Ethical BioTrade’s barometer. The barometer was launched in spring 2009 and was based on a survey of 4,000 people across France, Germany, the UK and the USA.
The Ethical BioTrade barometer shows that 56% of people surveyed had heard of biodiversity, nearly a third of which could define the term precisely. Understanding of the term biodiversity differed from one country to another: in Germany, only 13% of people surveyed had heard of the term, but when asked to define it 49% gave a correct definition. In France, on the other hand, 87% said they had heard of biodiversity, but only 25 defined it correctly. In the USA these figures were 48 and 26% respectively.
In France many confused the term biodiversity with terms related to organic products due to the prefix “bio” whilst in the USA some people went as far as defining biodiversity as “people of different races working together”. This clearly indicates a lack of understanding of the term.
However, when people were asked if they had heard about deforestation and loss of species 86% responded positively. This means that although the term biodiversity may not be well understood, a basic knowledge of the issue already exists. Nonetheless, a lot remains to be done in building consumer awareness of biodiversity, but it can be achieved, as is shown by the awareness of the same consumers regarding the notions of fair trade and sustainable development, of which they knew at 92% and 77% respectively.
It is also interesting to point out that respondents from higher income and education groups were more knowledgeable about biodiversity (39%, vs. 24% of lower incomes and 41%, vs. 21% of low education level), whilst no relevant differences were found according to gender or age.
The Union for Ethical BioTrade is a non-profit association that promotes the ‘Sourcing with Respect’ of ingredients that come from native biodiversity. Members commit to gradually ensuring that their sourcing practices promote the conservation of biodiversity, respect traditional knowledge and assure the equitable sharing of benefits all along the supply chain.
© Union for Ethical BioTrade (2009): reproduction prohibited without prior written agreement of the Union for Ethical BioTrade.