The Rainforest Alliance and SAN Plan of Action

Based on feedback from our colleagues and stakeholders, the Rainforest Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture are revising our current procedures related to human rights and putting into place measures to help ensure we continually improve them.

Here’s what we are doing:

  • Working with Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) to help us understand where training and audit procedures need to be strengthened.

    Update: We have reviewed improved social auditing procedures in consultation with an international fair labor consultant expert; an international development organization and SAAS. After this consultation, we developed new social auditing protocols. The new protocols emphasize customizing audit plans; requiring presence of female auditors and social experts as part of the audit teams; intensifying auditor training in techniques related to neutral questioning and active listening; spending 70 percent of audit time on group and individual interviews; interviewing a sample of high-risk workers; conducting interviews in confidential settings; and ensuring sufficient management systems and procedures, such as grievance mechanisms, are in place.
  • Launching an investigation on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms compliant with SAN standards and testing the methodologies that emerge from those findings on additional farms.

    Update: We conducted intensive training in the new protocols with 14 auditors, who then did research audits on five certified farms of varying sizes in three countries in East Africa.
  • Determining the extent of human-rights problems to help us decide if additional audits of certified farms are needed.

    Update: Our audits piloting the new in-depth, specialized protocols worked, in that they revealed existing problems on several certified farms. As a result, we have developed new protocols and indicators and trained auditors in how to adopt them. The methods will be applied by SAN accredited certification bodies in East African tea plantations in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe beginning October 1, 2014. In the future other regions will be included in this continual process of improvement. Here is more information about the new auditing protocols.
  • Reviewing findings to determine how the next generation SAN standards with respect to worker welfare can be improved.

    Update: Worker rights experts and other stakeholders are providing valuable input in the next revision of the SAN standard, now underway. Meanwhile, we will continue to use the newly developed in-depth protocols to guide us in taking effective measures to improve safety and quality of life for workers on certified farms. SAN authorized auditors will base their evaluations – additionally to SAN’s Sustainable Agriculture Standards criteria - on the indicators of critical criterion 5.10 detailed on page 21 of the official General Interpretation Guide - Sustainable Agriculture Standard.
  • Meeting regularly with leading human-rights and worker-protection organizations that can advise us how to best to meet our objectives of:
    • Effectively assessing conformance with human-rights standards;
    • Thoroughly investigating allegations of non-conformances;
    • Correcting and preventing non-conformances; and
    • Determining where risk of non-conformances are highest.
    Update: We are continuing to collaborate with worker-protection experts in order to improve our protocols; continuing to investigate allegations of non-conformances with the SAN standard; and continuing to conduct additional audits on farms where we believe risk of non-conformance are highest.
  • SAN is developing a Best Practice Manual to guide and support tea plantation managers in their efforts to continuously improve workplace conditions in order to eliminate and prevent sexual harassment and discrimination.
    • Collaborating with experts from human-rights and worker-protection organizations to be a part of farm audit teams.
    Update: A fair labor expert, an international development organization and a representative from Social Accountability Accreditation Services were key in helping us hone rigorous worker-protection protocols.
  • Extending what we learn and adopt to other sectors in which the Rainforest Alliance works, including forestry, tourism, education, climate change mitigation and sustainable finance.

We will continue to update our progress via this website and other communications channels.

The vast majority of farmers who work with the Rainforest Alliance are smallholders who with great dedication adhere to SAN standards. We thank them for their efforts and will use their steadfast commitments as inspiration to help us improve and advance our vision of a world where people and the environment prosper together.

Search form