Media Alert and Interview Opportunities for the Rainforest Alliance Workshop

May 11, 2012

Evidence that Markets, Consumers and the Planet Are Noticing the Impacts of Sustainability Certification

What?

Sustainability certification schemes have clearly raised the profile of sustainable supply chains, reaching producers, communities, companies and consumers virtually everywhere. But what has been the real impact on consumer choice and the global economy? To air the evidence that sustainability certification is achieving its goals, on May 16 the Rainforest Alliance presents the daylong workshop “Sustainability and Certification Impacts.” Leading executives, producers and sustainability experts from around the world will gather in New York to share and contextualize current data on diverse impacts of the sustainability certification movement.

Who?

The following business leaders, commodity producers, branding experts and sustainability leaders are among the presenters and panelists at the May 16 workshop, and are also available for side interviews.

  • Lee Ballin, Sustainability Manager, Bloomberg
  • Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility
  • Mike Barry, Sustainable Development Manager, Marks and Spencer Group Plc
  • Mark Buckley, VP Environmental Affairs, Staples
  • Francisco Bustamante, La Arboleda Community Mill
  • Apsara Chapagain, The Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal (FECOFUN)
  • John Gerzema, Executive Chairman of BrandAsset Consulting 
  • Kurt Holle, Posada Amazonas lodge by Rainforest Expeditions
  • Nathalie Ritchie, Senior Manager, Sustainability & Ethical Supply Chain, Kraft Foods
  • Roo Rogers, President, Redscout Ventures
  • Leonardo Sorice, Fazendas Reunidas Vale do Juliana SA
  • Kip Walk, Cocoa Director, Blommer Chocolate Company
  • Tensie Whelan, President of the Rainforest Alliance
  • An executive TBA of ECOM Trading
When and Where?

The May 16, 2012 workshop takes place from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the offices of Goldman Sachs & Co. at 1 Liberty Plaza, 7th Floor in downtown Manhattan. Journalists and bloggers are invited to attend and cover. Participants can grant side interviews there, as well as phone or in-studio interviews, on request. They can also be interviewed from 5:30 to 6:30pm that evening at a cocktail reception preceding a gala awards dinner at the American Museum of Natural History, on Central Park West at 79th Street. To RSVP for the workshop, or to request an interview, contact Anna Clark, aclark@ra.org, 646-452-1939 or Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com, 914-589-5988.

Why?

The Rainforest Alliance has been certifying sustainable farms and forest operations and verifying tourism businesses and forest-based climate projects for 25 years. In that time, the certification movement has grown rapidly and helped make the goal of sustainability much more salient and familiar to consumers and companies than a generation ago. But global population and general consumer demand are also growing rapidly, and analysts have wondered aloud whether certification can bring the goal within reach. Some ask whether we can shop our way to it through “green consumerism,” whether certification regimes are benefiting poor producers who most need help, and whether the sustainable certification movement can make enough of a difference to the planet to make global-scale economic activity sustainable.

The Rainforest Alliance is marshalling the evidence that it can. Certification’s impacts are complex, global, decentralized and costly and difficult to measure against a hypothetical business-as-usual trajectory. But Rainforest Alliance certification and verification represent a body of 25 years of work in over 100 countries with clear large-scale impacts and well-delineated future trends. They include far-reaching changes in production and land use practices, supply chains and business practices, as well as rapid growth in consumer awareness of and demand for sustainable brands.

For foresters and farmers worldwide, certified operation is reducing costs, increasing efficiency and raising incomes -- most dramatically in poor countries like Nicaragua. It is also vastly improving working conditions, from cocoa farms in West Africa to the coffeelands of Latin America. In community-owned forests from Mexico to Nepal, foresters are reducing deforestation while preserving biodiversity and forest communities. The market for certified goods and services has exploded since 2000 and continues to grow rapidly. US consumer awareness of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is now at 42 percent. Rainforest Alliance Certified products have attained significant global market shares, including 9.4 percent of tea, 3.3 percent of coffee and 15 percent of bananas. 770 different FSC-certified papers are now available in North America. Major global companies such as Chiquita, Ikea, Kraft, Lipton, Mars, McDonalds and many others now source Rainforest Alliance Certified products, while the Rainforest Alliance also works on general supply chain sustainability with other companies as diverse as Glaxo Smith Kline, Mattel Toy Products and Staples.