Case Study | The Body Shop

The Body Shop’s Bio-Bridges Mission

Human activity has left virtually no corner of the Earth untouched. Less than 25% of the Earth’s land surface has escaped substantial impacts of human activity and this percentage is expected to drop to 10% by 2050. The Bio-Bridges project, implemented by The Body Shop, seeks to address this phenomenon by linking and safeguarding biodiversity hotspots, creating corridors that enable endangered species to reconnect and local communities to thrive. And although the longer-term effects of this initiative have yet to be established, it is highly likely to contribute positively to both The Body Shop’s legacy and the ability of communities to thrive.

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark offers a way for The Body Shop to effectively segment and qualify its intentions and actions. Using the Positive Pursuits Guide, The Body Shop can describe how the Bio-Bridges project may lead to positive outcomes, by:

  • Causing less ecosystem degradation as a result of a decline in slash and burn farming and repairing vital ecosystems;
  • Providing access to clean water and keeping people healthy and safe from harm due to exchanged services provided by a partner NGO;
  • Strengthening capacities through increased access to education programmes; and
  • Providing access to economic opportunity, through opening up The Body Shop’s community trade initiative.

Progress to date

The Body Shop is aiming to raise £2 million by 2020 to achieve its goal of protecting 75 million square meters of habitat. The funding for the project is heavily linked to certain Body Shop products, including the limited edition Hemp and British Rose Hand Cream, where 1 penny from the sale of every Bio-Bridge product is pledged to protect 1 square meter of land.

The inaugural Bio-Bridge was implemented in 2015 and provided the inspiration for the wider Enrich not Exploit Bio-Bridge Mission. The Body Shop partnered with the World Land Trust to secure a piece of land that sits between two national parks in Khe Nuoc Trong, Vietnam. Low levels of protection meant that the forest had already been subject to extreme poaching, greatly affecting the indigenous red-shanked douc, one of the world’s most colourful monkeys, now listed on the IUCN Red List as endangered. In order to protect both the land and the native species, The Body Shop provided funds to lease the unprotected land whilst continuously lobbying the Vietnamese government to include the area as part of neighbouring national parks.

The Bio Bridges projects aren’t just environmentally beneficial. Several projects have engaged and empowered local communities. For example, when partnering with the Wildlife Trust of India to secure an elephant corridor in the Garo Hills, the company engaged closely with the Garo tribe. The Garo people have consistently used slash-and-burn farming techniques, causing a drastic drop in soil quality. As a result of the Bio-Bridge project, the ecosystem is being restored and villagers now protect the elephant corridor from further degradation. This partnership further benefits villagers with increased access to clean drinking water, and keeping people healthy and safe from harm through weekly visits from doctors and strengthening capacities through education programmes.

In Nepal, where efforts are being made to protect the Red Panda population in the Himalayas, the company has identified an opportunity to source responsibly-produced charcoal, made by local communities from burnt bamboo. The Body Shop is now exploring the possibility of using this raw material in their charcoal soap and facemasks.

Where feasible, the communities The Body Shop are working with are given the opportunity to join the Body Shop’s “Community Trade” programme, an on-going program which sources raw materials from small-scale producers on fair terms, providing The Body Shop with novel, high-quality ingredients while at the same time ensuring that more people have access to economic opportunity.

How the Future-Fit Business Benchmark supports The Body Shop to guide and articulate progress

A Future-Fit Society protects the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever, by being environmentally restorative, socially just and economically inclusive. If we are to realize this vision, every business must ensure that it is doing nothing to undermine society’s progress, by striving to meet the 23 Break-Even Goals. However, a business has the power to do more than just cause no harm, and indeed many companies actively seek to be a force for good in the world by undertaking Positive Pursuits. The Body Shop is a strong example of a company using its global influence to actively restore the environment, empower people to lead thriving lives and speed up our collective progress towards future-fitness.

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