The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ joined forces in January as a response to the increasingly urgent challenges we’re facing: climate change, rural poverty, biodiversity loss, and the destructive effects of conventional agriculture. As two global leaders in sustainable supply chains, our first order of business is to reimagine one of the most powerful tools we have to drive environmental, economic, and social transformation in production landscapes: certification. And in order to do this effectively, we must draw on the collective wisdom and experience of all of our partners.
Today we are launching the first round of public consultation for the new Rainforest Alliance certification standard. While the respective certification systems of each pre-merger organization achieved impressive results—millions hectares of farm and forestland are now managed according to rigorous sustainability standards—the imperative to amplify our positive impact has never been clearer. We are confident that by coming together, we can make deep-rooted change at the intersection of agriculture, forests, and business.
So now we turn to you. Our public consultation process is an essential step to creating a stronger approach to certification—one that calls for deeper engagement and greater transparency along the entire supply chain.
Sustainability is a journey. That means that entrenched, systemic barriers to sustainability—deforestation, child labor, or dangerous working conditions—cannot be resolved overnight. Our goal is to catalyze continuous improvement by going beyond compliance, by measuring and incentivizing change. That means improved data collection and analysis to assess the specific needs of farmers and adapt accordingly. This performance-driven approach will guide our own journey of continuous improvement and make our interventions more effective over the long term.
In our first year as the new Rainforest Alliance, we have been synthesizing our learnings from years of experience on the front lines of the sustainability movement—and daring ourselves to envision a bold new approach to the future. We’re building upon the strengths of both organizations, including our deep commitment to innovation. This new draft standard is the product of this synthesis.
The development of our new standard is supported by our external Standard Committee. This Committee is made up of talented and experienced professionals, all of whom were involved in the pre-merger UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification programs. The committee—representing various stakeholders such as producers, industry, NGOs, individual experts, and certification bodies—will continue to support and guide us as we digest and translate your feedback throughout this process.
Through this consultation process, the Rainforest Alliance and our partners will co-create the basis for a greater social, environmental, and economic transformation. At the core of our mission, as always, is our commitment to better livelihood opportunities for farmers and stronger protections for the landscapes where they live and work. Please join us by taking part in our consultation.
Thank you for your time and support,
Britta Wyss Bisang
Chief Sustainable Supply Chains Officer
Update April 4, 2019: The first round of public consultation for the new Rainforest Alliance certification standard has closed. We received great input for our second draft which will be shared for the second public consultation (June-August 2019).