News 2021-11-19

World Biodiversity Summit: Eliminating Petrochemicals is the First Step to Restoring Biodiversity!

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is coming to an end. Hosted alongside COP26 in Glasglow, the World Biodiversity Summit Part 3 marks a crucial opportunity for industry leaders to gather in an effort to stop biodiversity loss. 

On November 10, Jens Nielsen, Chair of World Climate Foundation, kicked off World Biodiversity Summit Part 3 with welcoming remarks on the necessary link between biodiversity and climate change. During the virtual Part 2 event held on October 14, O’right Chairman Steven Ko also stressed that “climate change, biodiversity loss and pandemics are more intimately intertwined than we imagined.”

Keynote speaker, Maria do Céu Antunes, Minister of Agriculture of Portugal, opened the panel discussion on Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture at the Center of Development Strategies, at which Dr. Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director in the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, served as the panel moderator. Other speakers include Dr. Barbara Buchner (Global Managing Director of the Climate Policy Initiative), Alison Taylor (Chief Sustainability Officer for Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, or ADM) and Hans Sauter (Chief Sustainability Officer at Fresh Del Monte). 

At Fresh Del Monte, Hans Sauter has long been working in research and development of bananas and crops to create a system where agriculture production and biodiversity work and thrive together. Sauter stressed that the key is “not to bring in more land to production but to make the available land more productive.” 

Ko shared his experience in converting agricultural waste and by-products locally-grown in Taiwan such as sorghum, banana stems and coffee grounds into value-added beauty ingredients to keep materials in use, thereby reducing the use of virgin plastic (petrochemicals) and preventing carbon buried underground from being sent into the atmosphere. His journey proves that the economic value generated from collaboration between businesses and farmers can mitigate climate change. 

Taylor from ADM, an American multinational food processing company that transforms oilseeds and cereal grains into products, said that the company has been buying crops from farmers and influencing and talking with farmers about regenerative agriculture. She said that it’s not just about doing less harm or no harm. “It’s about improving soil health. It’s about actually enhancing the soil,” Taylor said. Healthy soil can sequester carbon and mitigate climate change. Through a study ADM did with Cambridge University, they found that pollinator habitats are essential to food security. 

The panel moderator mentioned that access to climate finance is essential for regenerative agriculture, particularly for smallholder farmers. Named one of the 20 most influential women in climate change, Buchner emphasized the need to switch gears due to the shortage of the investments that are needed to transform agriculture and get this across the value chain.

“We strive to help farmers earn more!” As a real doer, Ko spent 15 years working with local farmers in Taiwan to increase the use of renewable agricultural resources. O’right turned sorghum into a hand cream, banana by-products into sheet mask fabric and coffee grounds into shampoo.

Seventy-seven products across O’right’s entire product portfolio have earned the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label, which is a seal of proof that products have been tested via the carbon-14 method. Replacing fossil fuels and petrochemicals with biobased products, O’right ensures that less carbon is emitted while proving that achieving zero carbon is possible. “Putting polar bears first allows us to see the importance of preserving biodiversity. This is more urgent than building a solar energy plant,” Ko said. Ould-Dada praised O’right for its transition to a circular mindset. To him, the most important thing is to change people’s mindsets. And that’s exactly what O’right has done (in particular, its latest innovation ±R Plan) and will continue to do to.