Leaders in Sustainability Honored at Rainforest Alliance Gala 2009

May 7, 2009

The Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit conservation organization, announced its 2009 honorees at its annual gala on May 6, 2009 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Sustainability commitments from global businesses continue to grow despite the current economic recession, helping to further on-the-ground conservation efforts. The annual gala recognized companies and individuals for their work with the Rainforest Alliance on making sustainable supply chain decisions or for their longtime support of conservation work.

"The honorees we selected have made solid commitments that benefit ecosystems, workers and wildlife worldwide," said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance, who was named one of the 100 most influential people in business ethics for the second year in a row by Ethisphere magazine. "By making sustainability a priority in their business decisions, they demonstrate its importance not only for the longevity of their businesses but also for the well-being of the entire planet."

The 2009 Honorees

Gisele Bündchen, Honorary Chair

Corporate Sustainable Standard-Setters (companies that have worked with the Rainforest Alliance and exhibited outstanding leadership in efforts to promote sustainability):

Green Hotels of Costa Rica
Suzano Papel e Celulose S.A.

Community Sustainable Standard-Setter

Napo Wildlife Center, Comunidad Kichwa Añangu

Corporate Green Globe Awardees (businesses that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to furthering sustainability):

Allegro Coffee Company
Drie Mollen Group
National Envelope
Unilever-Lipton Tea

Daniel Katz, Chairman of the Rainforest Alliance Board of Directors; Tensie Whelan, Rainforest Alliance President; Matthew Modine, Actor

Individual Green Globe Awardee

Becky McKinnon

2009 Gala Co-Chairs

Ecuador Ministry of Tourism
Gloria Jean's Coffees

Honorary Chair

Gisele Bündchen

The honorees and co-chairs came together on May 6th with other business leaders and representatives from the Rainforest Alliance for a day-long workshop on marketing sustainability and certification at the New York headquarters of Goldman, Sachs & Co. Following the workshop, they joined other Rainforest Alliance supporters for an awards dinner, dancing and silent auction at the American Museum of Natural History. Gala proceeds benefited the Rainforest Alliance's work in sustainable agriculture, forestry and tourism.

Achievements of the 2009 Gala Honorees

Green Hotels of Costa Rica
Propelled by founder Jim Damalas' vision for a collection of sustainably designed, developed and managed properties, Green Hotels of Costa Rica created Si Como No Resort and Spa in 1993. The group expanded 10 years later with Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve and Aguila de Osa Inn. Green Hotels are a model of social, environmental and economic responsibility, boasting some of the lowest hotel employee turnover rates in Costa Rica. All employees receive full benefits and the eco-responsible properties abide by strict water usage and treatment guidelines, recycle waste and have installed units to produce solar energy.

Red-Eyed Tree Frog - Photo By Cory Thomas

Suzano Papel e Celulose S.A.
With a presence in roughly 80 countries around the globe, the Brazil-based paper and pulp manufacturer Suzano Papel e Celulose S.A. is a truly international enterprise. At the center of the 84-year-old company's business strategy is a profound dedication to sustainable development -- both within the company as well as in the forest communities from which it sources its raw materials -- and it's a commitment that has paid off. One of the 10 largest pulp producers in the world, Suzano attributes much of its success to its choice to seek Forest Stewardship Council certification on its already well-managed forestlands. And on its over 1.4 million acres of land (462,000 hectares) -- 40 percent of which has been set aside as reserves -- the company is truly making a difference, protecting endangered species such as the Juçara palm and the Bahia rosewood.

Napo Wildlife Center, Comunidad Kichwa Añangu
In the early 90s, the Comunidad Kichwa Añangu searched for an alternative to the irresponsible logging and oil extraction that neighboring groups were allowing to destroy their forests. Community members concluded that an eco-lodge could provide jobs while conserving their land in Yasuni National Park. The Napo Wildlife Center, a community-owned and operated business, is the realization of their vision. Proceeds from the center go directly toward the conservation of 82 square miles of pristine rainforest as well as salaries, healthcare and education for staff. In Rainforest Alliance-led tourism workshops, staff members were given the tools and techniques for installing solar panels, treating wastewater and composting. Regular consultation with internationally recognized biologists helps to ensure that that the center's operations do not disturb local wildlife, including scarlet macaws and golden-mantled tamarins.

Allegro Coffee Company
When Colorado-based Allegro Coffee Company opened its doors in 1977, it was one of the state's first specialty coffee roasters. Though others have popped up since, Allegro continues to stand out for its commitment to sourcing beans grown on environmentally-friendly farms where water is conserved and pesticides are avoided. Three years ago, in response to customer demand for independent confirmation of the company's dedication to sustainability, Allegro reached out to the Rainforest Alliance. The company's commitment to certification is paying off for the farms and communities from which it sources its quality coffee. These communities are now investing their earnings back into their farms, are able to hire and retain the best workers and remain in business for the long term. In addition to its work with the Rainforest Alliance, Allegro also donates funds to farms to help with certification fees, reforestation and irrigation projects, and other improvement ventures.

Drie Mollen Group

Succulent Plant - Photo By Christian Taylor

For nearly two centuries, the Netherlands-based Drie Mollen Group has been making a name for itself in the tea and coffee industries. Today, it is one of the largest coffee roasters in Europe and a market leader within the private-label sector. The company has made sustainability a fundamental part of its business strategy, and it evaluates the sales volume of its Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and tea as a key performance indicator. Drie Mollen also excels at showing its customers how the integration of certified coffee and tea into a product line can be the first step on the path toward sustainability. The list of Drie Mollen buyers that have chosen certified products continues to grow, a sign that it is doing its part to ensure that biodiversity is conserved and workers are well-treated on those certified farms from which it sources its coffee and tea.

National Envelope
Founded in 1952 by William Unger, National Envelope is the world's largest envelope company. In addition to envelopes, National Envelope offers a full range of announcements and greeting cards. An industry leader in environmental stewardship, it was the first US envelope-maker to offer Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)/Rainforest Alliance Certified products. By choosing to make many of its envelopes from fiber sourced from responsibly-managed forests, National Envelope is protecting wildlife and wildlife habitats and conserving natural resources. The company has also been influential in convincing other businesses to seek out certification and believes that FSC certification is now the industry standard.

Unilever-Lipton Tea
As the world's number one tea brand with a presence in more than 150 countries, Unilever's Lipton Tea is passionate about its brews. The global giant first demonstrated an interest in sustainability more than a decade ago, instituting a sustainable development program on company-owned farms in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2007, Unilever went one step further by committing to source all of its Lipton tea sold in tea bags from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. As supplier farms have begun to jump on the certified bandwagon, they have invested in a host of improvements, including protective clothing for workers, waste water treatment equipment and hydroelectric power sources. Unilever-Lipton is also helping to conserve the flora and fauna that thrive in and around its farms through various conservation initiatives, such as a project in Tanzania, a biodiversity hotspot. And by working with the Farmer Field School in Kenya, Unilever is helping to teach tens of thousands of farmers about the benefits and methods of sustainable agriculture.

Bird on Pole - Photo By Mary Kellogg

Becky McKinnon
Since joining Timothy's Coffees of the World, Inc. in 1979, Becky McKinnon has been integral to growing the company into a recognized source for socially and environmentally responsible coffee. McKinnon assumed control of the chain in 1985 and proceeded to expand the business significantly, adding a new roasting plant and more than 150 retail stores. As a coffee aficionado herself, McKinnon believed in purchasing premium beans, confident that Timothy's customers would pay more for a quality cup of java. These premiums allowed growers to invest in social and environmental improvements and led to long term buying relationships. In 2004, Timothy's began to source coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, and today, all of Timothy's espresso-based beverages are made with 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee from Brazil.

Achievements of the 2009 Gala Co-Chairs

Ecuador Ministry of Tourism
Home to 10 percent of the world's plant species and eight percent of its animal species, Ecuador is truly a biodiversity hotspot. In an effort to conserve the country's natural riches, Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism has been working with the Rainforest Alliance since 2006 to establish sustainable management practices for the tourism industry that protect flora and fauna, and promote the well-being of workers and their communities. As a result of this collaboration, 70 businesses have been trained in responsible management, 20 tour operators now favor sustainable companies when designing tour packages and 50 businesses have received SmartVoyager certification for sound management.

Gloria Jean's Coffees
Always passionate about ensuring the long-term welfare of the communities from which it sources its coffee, Gloria Jean's Coffees joined forces with the Rainforest Alliance in 2004. Today, Gloria Jean's is the largest roaster and distributor of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee in Australia, with 85 percent of its coffee carrying the little green frog seal. The company's commitment has had a profoundly positive impact on coffee producing communities. Among them, the community of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, where on the Hacienda San Rafael farm workers are paid above minimum wage, supplied with three meals a day and given access to a clinic, health education and regular doctor visits. At a nearby school, built and staffed by owner Alvaro Reyes, over 100 children and adults from the farm and neighboring villages are given access to education. Hacienda San Rafael has also incorporated many eco-friendly practices, now composting coffee byproducts and utilizing a water-saving wet mill.

Gala Underwriter

Gibson Foundation

Gala Sponsors

Domtar
National Geographic Adventure
Nespresso