In addition to these FAQs about our Assurance program, we also have specific FAQs for other areas within our 2020 Certification Program:
- FAQ: General Questions
- FAQ: Farm Requirements
- FAQ: Supply Chain Requirements
- FAQ: Transitioning to the new standard
FAQ: Assurance program
How will assurance work for the new standard?
An important aspect of our new certification program is the collection and verification of credible and useful data and compliance evidence. Through improved data collection the Rainforest Alliance will be able to focus assurance on issues that pose the greatest risk to the sustainability performance of individual certificate holders or in specific contexts.
The assurance system for the new standard follows the same model as for the current standards. It is based on independent third-party auditing through certification bodies. Certificate Holders will contract with the Rainforest Alliance authorized CBs to conduct their audits. Rainforest Alliance will provide Certificate Holders and CBs with a wider range of tools to assess their sustainability risks – such as technology and satellite images to detect environmental risks such as deforestation. Risk profile data collected from Certificate Holders at registration and mandatory risk analysis they undertake to comply with the standard requirements will allow auditors to focus their verification where the risk is greatest. The Rainforest Alliance is also exploring assurance methods that depend less on audits that are carried out once per year, and more on regular interim verification moments during the agricultural production cycle.
To find out more about assurance in the new program, read the 2020 Certification and Auditing Rules.
Can certificate holders be decertified?
At the Transition Period Audit and the First Certification Audit, the Certificate Holders will not be certified if they do not comply with the core requirements. After the first year, Certificate Holders continuously need to comply with all core requirements and can be decertified if the core requirements are not met. Non-compliance with the applicable mandatory improvements can also be a reason to not grant a certificate, e.g. if the improvement level is not reached in due time or if the smart-meter data show a decline or stagnation in combination with absence of proof of actions undertaken.
What will the certification process in the new program look like?
A certificate holder with farming in scope will receive annual audits. A certificate holder without farming in scope may have certain sites being audited by a CB and certain sites having endorsement from the Rainforest Alliance without receiving an audit (please see Certification and Auditing Rules for more details). The annual audits will have full scope for the CB to confirm that the CH continuously comply with the applicable requirements of the standard.
To obtain and/or maintain Rainforest Alliance certification status, the certificate holder needs to go through different steps in the certification process. Different steps of the certification audit are described in detail in the Certification and Auditing Rules. It is important for the certificate holder to follow these steps within the defined timelines in the same document to make sure that the certification process will not meet unwanted challenges. Some examples are, providing required audit application data, audit preparation data within the given timeframe, correctly complete tasks required by the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform, proactively cooperate with the certification body to complete the certification request.
What are my obligations as a certificate holder to obtain and maintain certification?
In addition to closely following the certification process, the CH has certain obligations to respect as described in the Certification and Auditing Rules, Section 1.5.
Who are the authorized certification bodies that are authorized to audit my company?
For the 2020 Rainforest Alliance certification program, an authorization process is ongoing and the list of authorized certification bodies with their corresponding scope will be available around April 2021.
The certificate holders will have access to such a public list as currently available in the pre-merger programs. The certificate holders can select different certification bodies for requesting a quote and signs the certification agreement with one selected certification body.
How do Certification Bodies become authorized to perform audits against the Rainforest Alliance standard?
Certification Bodies have to go through an Authorization Process to be authorized. Authorization Processes are opened at specific times for specific countries. The Rainforest Alliance will communicate any new authorization processes on our resources for Certification Bodies page.
I am the scheme manager of a Certification Body. How does our CB become authorized to perform audits for the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard?
The Rainforest Alliance can open new authorization processes for CBs to extend our auditing capacity. We will communicate any new authorization processes on our resources for Certification Bodies page. If no authorization process is open Certification Bodies can still express their interest to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will notify the Certification Bodies about future authorization processes according to the scope (Supply Chain/Farm, Geographical scope/ crops) that the Certification Body has communicated to our CB Management team.