Yves Rocher
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Yves Rocher
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Civil society (1 hits),

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Yves Rocher has been developing expertise in Botanical Beauty for 50 years. The brand?s roots are in La Gacilly, a small rural village in French Brittany. Its founder Mr. Yves Rocher created his business there in order to stem rural flight. In his capacity as an entrepreneur and an elected official, Mr. Yves Rocher refused to practice land consolidation, a widespread intense farming practice at the time, encouraged handicrafts and the handicrafts industry, and set up Yves Rocher?s three Breton production sites?each of which has received Quality, Security and Environment certifications (ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001, and ISO 14001)?and two of which are also certified bird garden sanctuaries of the French League for Bird Protection ("LPO").

Mr. Yves Rocher also set up an organic farm that produces flowers used in the brand's various products, and created a botanical garden open to the public. Mr. Yves Rocher has turned La Gacilly into a dynamic and lively town that combines a modern economy, crafts, and the promotion of nature. The brand that carries his name has grown to become a leading European cosmetics company, distributing over 300 million products annually in 80 countries.

Within the scope of preparing for the Rio+20 Summit, Yves Rocher offers to share its concrete experience. Sustainable Development integration at La Gacilly, but also at a larger scale, requires a continuous improvement approach and highlights two key themes that could be shared at the Rio+20


- An analysis of the interactions with the biosphere at the local level and beyond, and the implementation of levers for action which enable more sustainable interactions;

- A deep understanding of the issues involved in and the conditions for sustainable development via research and mediation.


Developing tools that convey the biodiversity interdependence of organisations The founding example of La Gacilly is a demonstration of how Yves Rocher has sought to integrate itself in its human and environmental ecosystem, in line with the mission defined by its founder. The Brand has developed and expanded well beyond Brittany, but its business mission has remained constant. To this end, it must conduct an analysis on its interactions with its ecosystem and with the myriad of ecosystem services that it depends on (air and water purification, and the provision of raw materials for example).

Yves Rocher's business is intrinsically dependent on biodiversity. At the level of La Gacilly, these links are rather tangible, due to the way its ecosystem operates. When applied to a larger scale, exhaustive knowledge of these links becomes a radically different kind of challenge. Current economic systems reflect these interactions with biodiversity very imperfectly. At the organisational level, tools such as the Business and Biodiversity Interdependence Indicator (BBII) from Orée, and the Ecosystem Services Review (ESR) of the World Resources Institute, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the Meridian Institute address these issues.

 The development of tools to analyse interdependency to biodiversity, their adaptation to the specificities of the business, as well as their dissemination, are a valuable achievement for economic actors in particular.

Developing levers for action that incorporate biodiversity interdependence Knowledge of the interactions with biodiversity is a prerequisite for inventing new sustainable levers for action. Take plant sourcing for example. Before using plant-based raw material, resource availability and integration in the local environmental and socio-economic balance must be assessed. Beyond environmental impact management, botanical sourcing can also be used as a tool to foster biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in a broader sense, in accordance with the founding principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Yves Rocher field experience can contribute to demonstrate that this is possible.

Yves Rocher builds on its local experience in socio-economic and environmental integration in La Gacilly. In terms of sourcing, it encourages the use of plants that it cultivates in La Gacilly, even if their resale price is above market price. Yves Rocher would like to continue to keep this plant production local because of the intangible value that it generates locally. Yves Rocher strives to apply this philosophy to others areas of activity, particularly in plant supply systems in distant locations. Each new supply system must thus be adapted to the specific context (cultural, environmental, industrial etc.), and built via a symbiotic approach.

Experimenting is essential (the root of the word ?experiment? literally means to ?pass through? a trial and to learn lessons from it). The construction of the supply system of the essential oil of saro (Cinnamosma fragrans), a Madagascan shrub, is a poignant example. Villagers harvest saro leaves and distil them to produce the essential oil. In addition to providing an incentive for ecosystem conservation, there are a whole host of benefits?saro cultivation and replanting trials, instructor financing, and most importantly, support for economic development. So that local producers can become economically and technically selfsufficient,

Yves Rocher paid for the still used to distil the essential oil. It also transferred know-how and test results so that local producers can easily sell the essential oil to other firms. This type of scheme rethinks the supply system, and allows its actors to better know each other. It is based on a human network (in Madagascar for example, these network players include Yves Rocher, the NGO MATE, Malagasy SMEs and harvesters). Sustainable sourcing strengthens the relationship between stakeholders, building bridges between these stakeholders who share common interests and who can then combine their strengths in a shared project. Beyond a basic strategy to secure the supply system upstream by strengthening it, this sustainable approach creates extended value for cosmetics products and above all creates meaning. This is not only about plants, but also about humans. The effort to incorporate biodiversity interdependence in plant sourcing is henceforth part and parcel of the Botanical Beauty concept. This effort is reflected in plant selection, and in establishing supply system relationships and the operational tools that are meant to encourage more long-term use of the plants by including them in a diversity of products.

 Once the interdependent biodiversity relationship is recognised, new levers for sustainable action can be planned. The example of plant sourcing shows that it is possible to reconcile the concerns of consumers and producers of plant raw materials, all while contributing to sustainable biodiversity management. In line with the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity, levers for action can be developed to combine biodiversity promotion and conservation. Their wider application, particularly within the framework of applying the Nagoya Protocol, could be facilitated by sharing concrete field experiences, and via more interaction among the involved stakeholders (indigenous and local communities, NGOs, firms, and administrations for example).


Encouraging interdisciplinarity in research Sustainable development requires consideration of the environmental, economic and social spheres as a whole and of their interconnections in particular. Research on this requires heterogeneous expertise (chemistry, ecology, climatology, economics . . .) whose segmentation is now being offset by a more interdisciplinary and transversal approach. As a concrete example, his multi- and inter-disciplinary model from the plant to the skin has demonstrated its advantages for innovation at the level of Yves Rocher research and development.

 So that each actor can fully understand how it can become part of and contribute to the sustainable development goal, it is vitally important to increase the interdisciplinary nature of research.

Increasing collaboration between public research and business Collaboration between business and research?notably public research?could also be supported, by expanding research and innovation networks for example. One of the goals would be to strengthen coordination between fundamental and applied research. Businesses can provide their operational and field knowledge, which is often developed in various countries, and also share their lessons learned through interaction with several stakeholders. In France, the National Foundation for Biodiversity Research is also opening new horizons through involving business, associations, public institutions, local authorities, natural area administrators, and elected officials?all as key actors in biodiversity.

 Collaboration between business and public research could act as a tool to link up research by strengthening operational and concrete sustainable development logic on the field.

Increase the importance granted to human and social sciences Sustainable development research goes beyond a strictly scientific framework, and encompasses the concerns and stakes of a new multiplicity of stakeholders. The perception of sustainable development is diffracted amongst its actors (including various elements of Civil society, non-governmental organisations, administrations, and companies.) It is crucial to go beyond strictly scientific and analytical concerns, and to integrate social and human dimensions that address their concerns and their perception of the issues.

 Enriching reflection on sustainable development could involve granting more importance to human and social sciences, as well as multiplying the interfaces between the sciences, civil societies, and policies.

Strengthen sustainable development mediation

The appropriation of sustainable development issues and also the awareness of responsibility for the causes and the consequences of individual and collective actions, especially consequences that are delayed and that are observed in a different location are two key issues. Yves Rocher can share its experience linked with the role of mediator with its clients it is able to and must play, to heighten their awareness of sustainability issues. This green mediation involves each of the products sold annually but also events for the general public such citizen mobilisation. As part of the Plant for the Planet programme, the Yves Rocher Foundation ? Institut de France launched an international viral campaign in July 2011. This programme is embodied by a tribe of planters, and aims to mobilise as many people as possible ahead of the Rio+20 Summit.

 Faced with the complexity of sustainable development issues, mediation must be strengthened to clarify sustainable development issues to both inform and educate the public.
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