The private sector must act and lead to save biodiversity

RESP talks to Michel Mane, the President of the Mane Foundation of MANE Group about the future of biodiversity and why he thinks it’s worth attending the CBD COP in Pyeongchang,

MANE Group is a family-run company which distils and extracts plants and flowers to produce fragrances and flavours for the perfume and food industries. Established in 1871, the company now employs 4,000 people in 32 countries. In 2013, its sales were worth US$ 960 million.

Born in France, Michel was educated in France and the United States. He lives in New York with his wife, Isabelle, and their two boys, Victor and Edouard. He is also member of the RESP Executive Committee. 

Why are you attending the CBD COP in Korea?

The CBD is a reference point for anybody or any company that uses biodiversity and wants to do that in a responsible or sustainable way. It is true that at the end of the day private companies can go their own way and behave as they choose but the framework is there to follow. The CBD is an excellent guide for all those who want to do the right thing.

Coming here is also a great source of inspiration. It’s a great opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, especially with NGOs who are working on these issues.

The Nagoya Protocol and its implementation set a benchmark, reminding us that we need Nature and that we must value it correctly, based on the resources it provides.

Why do businesses like yours care about the future of biodiversity?

Well, the answer to that question is extremely simple – no biodiversity means no source of natural aromatic ingredients and ultimately no business. MANE has been around for more than 140 years, and well on its way for another generation and hopefully more.

But some value chains are on the verge of extinction, because these resources are not being managed correctly and producer communities are not being given enough respect.  This is exactly why the private sector must act and lead, in partnership with biodiversity rich countries. 

Consumers are changing their posture vis-a-vis responsible production and consumption. They want to make the world a better place and they have the power to do so by buying products which speak most to the values that matter to them. Consumers associations, retailers, cosmetics and fragrance brands have started to ask us: Are you doing your fair share? Where do your products come from? Tell us about the positive impacts of your business...

The need to act comes from a basic sense of responsibility and altruism. But it is very much market-driven too. Business-as-usual is not an option; it’s about science, technology, innovation in our consumption, production and business models.

What outcome do you expect from the meeting?

For MANE, its Foundation and for me, this meeting is a great opportunity to engage with civil society. It is a good way to stay involved with the issues that we care about and to position the private sector as a true enabler and partner of governments,  non-governmental organizations, as well as indigenous and local communities. I am looking forward to meeting with inspirational opinion leaders such as Pavan Sukhdev and attending side events on BioTrade and ABS.

What does the RESP membership mean for you?

Many companies share the same environmental challenges. RESP offers these companies a forum to discuss and to understand the impact of multilateral agreements such as the Nagoya protocol on the development and commercialization of new products. It is a platform for an exchange of information and best practices and in this way it supports effective cooperation between business, government, research institutions and civil society.

When we cooperate we are more likely to find the solutions to depletion and degradation of natural resources.  And right now, we are in the process of identifying value chains of particular relevance to the different industries in order that we can maximize the positive environmental and social impacts within a single ecosystem.

My frequent trips to Latin America and Africa continue to reinforce my passion for natural products and my respect for those who steward their environment. Biodiversity is at the source of our well-being and will remain also the inspiration of our most breakthrough innovations.