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Ensuring our Integrity -- Decision Making

Rainforest Alliance certification and verification, which we call "audits", are conducted by program staff and consultants who meet established criteria for experience and training and who have not provided related consulting services or technical assistance to the business being audited for at least the past two years.

Before being appointed, all auditors -- whether staff or consultants -- are required to declare any potential conflicts of interest in writing. Management reviews these disclosure statements and any conflict must be resolved.

Decision reviews are done by staff members who also have previously made written declarations of independence, which include the requirement that they have not participated in the audit being reviewed or provided technical assistance or consulting services to the business being certified for at least a two-year period prior to auditing.

Besides these designated individuals, no other staff members have any involvement in the actual decisions. Our board of directors and executive office staff are not involved in any way in these decisions.

We separate our certification systems from our technical assistance activities. Auditors do not provide technical assistance services while they are performing audits or vice versa.

Rainforest Alliance certification and verification decisions are based upon review of audit reports, comments from the audited business owners and managers and the input of stakeholders and peer review comments.

Complaints and Appeals

We have an established procedure for complaints and appeals that may be exercised by owners of the business that was audited or outside stakeholders. Designated staff members investigate all complaints as well as appeals of certifications. Responses are documented and decisions provided to those who made the complaint. In the case of forestry, anyone who is not satisfied with the staff investigation and findings may also submit a separate complaint to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the international body that accredits the Rainforest Alliance.

The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) receives comments and complaints with regard to SAN certifications and standards.

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