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Leather facts

Nothing to Hide: Issues of deforestation

About this essay

Fernando Bellese works as marketing and sustainability manager at JBS Couros, the leather division of the Brazilian meat and tanning group. His academic background includes an MBA in marketing from the Federal University of Uberlandia in Brazil and a Master’s  in tourism, environment and development from King’s College, London. With know-how in sustainability policies and standards, social development, stakeholder relationship and marketing strategy, he is currently engaged in different national and international initiatives such as the development of CICB Sustainability Standard, The Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock, and the Leather Working Group as member of the Executive Committee.

This article tackles the following misrepresentations:

Myth: Tanners make leather without any consideration for the environment, for the safety and wellbeing of their workers or for the communities with which they share resources.

Fact: The Tannery of the Year programme has reported since 2009 countless examples of leather producers that care deeply about all aspects of corporate social responsibility.

Executive summary

Livestock and consequently leather production has in recent years, been constantly linked with different environmental issues such as greenhouse gases emission and natural land changing. In Brazil the situation is no different and it’s possible to see a frequent debate around the impact it has in the transformation of the natural landscape in the country. At the same time, Brazil has presented itself over the last few decades as one of the main food producers in the world with an important duty in producing food to feed its population, and helping at the same time to nourish other parts of the world.

Livestock production is one of the country’s most important sectors within the agribusiness and has frequently been at the centre of this discussion, having on one side the responsibility to increase meat production to support the constantly rising demand and, on the other side, dealing with ways to improve the sector’s practice in order evolve in a sustainable way. However socio-environmental awareness among Brazilian producers, NGOs and different levels of government has fostered major development in different areas.

Multi-stakeholders initiatives, private monitoring systems, research on low carbon livestock production, grassroots and mitigation projects, have together shown that it is possible to produce meat (and consequently leather) in a sustainable way, without the need for the opening of new areas. This article aims to go through some examples already in place in the country, representing the evolution of those practices and showing how the meat and leather industry can grow, generating wealth, social development and at the same time foster conservation of natural areas.

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