Natura has a history of involvement with the communities where it is present. We promote community development by means of the relationship we have in Cajamar and Itapecerica da Serra (São Paulo) and in Benevides (Pará), where our operations are more expressive. In addition to promoting real initiatives, our activity is based on the social involvement of all sectors of society and a focus on issues that are important for communities in developing the common good.

We have some challenges ahead. In Cajamar, we want to help expand and strengthen democratic participation areas in partnership with the different sectors of society. To this end, we implemented the Agenda 21 Permanent Forum. We also intend to contribute to overcoming environmental and social challenges in an integrated way. Accordingly, we established the Selective Collection Program in Itapecerica da Serra. In 2008, we invested R$ 592,000 in both municipalities. The significant increase compared to the previous year (R$ 391,500) was a result of the use of funds from the Believing is Seeing (Crer Para Ver) Program in projects to improve the quality of public education in both municipalities.



Over the years, we have been encouraging our employees to work as volunteers in the schools of Cajamar and Itapecerica da Serra. In 2008, 56 workers participated in reading and information technology classes, benefiting 679 people. This was less than in 2007, when we had 77 volunteer employees. Thus, we intend to mobilize employees to increase the number of participants in this program in 2009.

A significant portion of the effective job vacancies in the operational area have been taken by employees from the community surrounding our plant in Cajamar, which is why the indicator has increased in recent years. The tendency for 2009 is for this figure to remain stable. In addition to permanent employees, we have many temporary and outsourced employees who come from our surrounding community.



Cajamar

Our efforts in Cajamar, city of our head office, were focused on the dissemination, monitoring, and implementation of the Master Plan in the municipality, which was approved in December 2007. Its content is a result of the work on Agenda 21, the discussion of which we have been stimulating since 2003 in two of the town’s three districts – Polvilho and Cajamar Centro. In partnership with the NGO Mata Nativa and community leadership and associations from both districts, we have been organizing district forums, which gathered about 190 people in 2008, to establish priorities for the implementation of the Master Plan in the municipality.

Our work has been well received by the local community. In 2008, a survey conducted with representatives of civil society, the third sector, and the government of Cajamar about our participation in the development of the community evaluated aspects of leadership, management, democratic participation, education, and culture. It tried to understand whether our efforts over 10 years met the interests and needs of the community. We detected that the population clearly sees the areas where we invest the most and realizes that our intention is to contribute to the improvement of quality of life in the community and to local sustainable development. The results, discussed by the Natura Sustainability Committee, will be taken into consideration in the preparation of new strategies and initiatives in our work in the surrounding communities.

We must admit that we did not make progress in 2008 with the program for the development of local suppliers.

With respect to encouraging improvement in the quality of education, with funds from the Crer Para Ver program, we progressed in our partnership with the Municipal Education Board in projects such as the ParticipAção (ParticipAction), structured with the support of the Public Policies Studies Center of the State University of Campinas, which seeks to bring parents closer to the academic life of their children. We took this initiative to 29 schools in the municipal system, and it indirectly benefited 11,000 students.

Itapecerica da Serra

In the local community of Itapecerica da Serra, we focus mainly on the district of Potuverá, where we are located and which has a population of around 9,000 people. We believe that our actions can be replicated, benefiting an increasing number of people. Accordingly, we established partnerships with the public sector organization to develop projects and public policies of interest to the whole municipality.

Our main initiative in 2008 was to provide technical support to the City Administration Office in the development and implementation of the Selective Collection Program and the structuring and strengthening of the Cooperative of Recyclers of Itapecerica da Serra. The Selective Collection Program of Itapecerica da Serra serves some education establishments, public agencies, gated communities, and companies, with Voluntary Delivery Points and door-to-door collection. Currently, 16 metric tons of recyclable materials are collected.

We established a contract with the Cooperative for the destination of solid waste in the town as from 2009, so that
our recyclable waste can contribute to the generation of
local income.

We have also been investing in developing the School Agenda 21, which resulted in selective collection projects in the schools of the municipality and the wider region, which were organized and reported in the publication “Tracking the paths of the School Agenda 21.” With the support of Natura, the separation and proper destinations of waste are already in place in 57 schools (7 private, 34 municipal and 16 state schools) and also in nine companies, six gated communities, and in the district of Branca Flor.

Benevides

In our first industrial unit outside the state of São Paulo, the industrial unit of soap products in Benevides (Pará), we have some challenges ahead, among which are to strengthen the quality of relationships in a region where social needs are obvious. The occupation of an area that neighbors Natura’s land and a number of lootings in the first half of 2008 are examples of the difficulties we face. These events have generated insecurity for the employees in that unit.

As a way to overcome such challenges, we are working harder to strengthen our relationship with the surrounding community, working on the organization and training of complex extractivism chains, and promoting a sustainable business model that benefits the community, the environment, and our business. We invest annually in lectures and training meetings for the suppliers in this community.

This will take time, and we still need to plant many seeds to overcome obstacles such as lack of organization, leadership, and knowledge for the management of business, whether of cooperatives, associations, or unions, which, therefore, become fragile and inefficient.

In 2008, we bought 152 metric tons of inputs from small local producers. We used a model that favors extractivism and family agriculture, thus strengthening our relationship with communities and cooperatives. The local producers with whom we do business are not only located in the municipality of Benevides, but also in other municipalities, but all must have the required socio-environmental characteristics.