Ensuring our Integrity -- Oversight and Accountability
A Rainforest Alliance Audit and Risk Committee, which is independent of the financial control of the organization and certification and verification decision-making, meets on a quarterly basis and reviews at least annually our performance in maintaining full independence. The Committee is also charged with recommending to the Board the retention and termination of our independent auditor.
Members of the Committee are not remunerated by the Rainforest Alliance in any way, do not have any material financial interest in any entity doing business with us and are not involved with our certification or verification decision-making.
Fiduciary oversight of our activities rests with our Board of Directors. Although we believe that Director experience with certification and verification can be quite valuable, it is our policy that our Board never be dominated by Directors with an interest in Rainforest Alliance Certified or verified operations.
Audit findings are documented in reports that are reviewed for quality and adherence to established procedures.
The Rainforest Alliance is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an independent, international organization that promotes responsible management of the world's forests. To achieve and maintain FSC accreditation, we must demonstrate that our certification procedures meet stringent technical and procedural requirements and that our structure and procedures guarantee independence of our auditing activities and certification decisions. The FSC audits the Rainforest Alliance annually at the headquarters level as well as through sample-based auditing of field performance through audits of SmartWood forest management and chain-of-custody certificate holders. Every five years the FSC undertakes a complete re-accreditation of the Rainforest Alliance; the last re-accreditation took place in 2006.
Our Sustainable Agriculture program is in the process of becoming accredited under the International Standardization Organization (ISO) Guide 65 for certification bodies. Our Forest Stewardship Council-accredited forestry certification program is already ISO compliant, because ISO standards are folded into FSC standards.
We are also a member of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance (ISEAL), an organization established to strengthen the integrity of social and environmental certification systems and whose members are international standard-setting, certification and accreditation organizations.
The Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture's standard setting process is certified by ISEAL as being in compliance with ISEAL's Code of Good Practices for Standard Setting.
In addition, the Rainforest Alliance is the international secretariat of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of leading conservation groups that links responsible farmers with conscientious consumers by means of the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. SAN members understand local culture, politics, language and ecology and are trained in auditing procedures according to internationally recognized guidelines.
The Rainforest Alliance serves as Technical Secretariat of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas, which brings together certification programs, public and private entities that promote tourism certification and other environmental, tourism-related and academic organizations, all aiming to share information, identify training needs and define a progressive market strategy. The Network has agreed upon a set of criteria for sustainable tourism certification based on existing regionally and nationally accepted standards.