In addition to these general questions, we have specific FAQs for the following areas within our 2020 Certification Program:
- FAQ: Farm Requirements
- FAQ: Supply Chain Requirements
- FAQ: Assurance
- FAQ: Transitioning to the new standard
Why has the Rainforest Alliance developed a new certification program?
The merger of the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ in 2018 was a natural moment for us to combine our experience and develop a strong, forward-looking approach to certification that is fit for these challenges now facing sustainable agriculture and related supply chains. Certification has had a huge impact in bringing sustainability to the forefront of business thinking, but it must continue to evolve to provide more value to farmers and companies and ensure that people and nature can thrive in harmony.
The 2020 Certification Program is a unique opportunity to really change the way that certification works and how it delivers value to the many people and businesses around the world that use it.
How does the new program relate to other work of the Rainforest Alliance?
The 2020 Certification Program is the first step on our journey to reimagining certification, and we will continue to innovate and test new approaches over the years to come.
In addition to certification, the Rainforest Alliance strategy has three other pillars: Landscapes and Communities, Tailored Supply Chain Services, and Advocacy. All pillars together are the vehicles to move towards the organization’s mission to create a more sustainable world by using social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities.
What are the key changes in the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard?
To find out more about the innovations and changes in the new 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard, read the “Introduction to the Sustainable Agriculture Standard” one-pager.
What are the timelines for the new program?
Read an overview of the timelines for the new program, including timings for organizations transitioning from the existing Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification programs.
What is in the 2020 Certification Program?
Our 2020 Certification Program is made up of three principal components that are designed to work closely with each other:
- Sustainable Agriculture Standard, which is comprised of the Farm Requirements and the Supply Chain Requirements, along with Annexes and Guidance.
- Assurance System, including certification rules to set out how auditors evaluate compliance with the Farm and Supply Chain Requirements; auditing rules to ensure that Certification Bodies consistently deliver Rainforest Alliance audits of the highest quality; and rules for authorizing certification bodies and their personnel
- Data Systems and Tools, including a certification platform and new IT-based tools will progressively be made available to farmers, certificate holders and supply chain actors to better track and manage sustainability performance against the requirements of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard.
How does the content of the program relate to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
The mission and fields of work of the Rainforest Alliance touch upon many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the current innovations it is intended to further strengthen the impact on a number of these. Key goals the standard will focus on include:
- 1 – No Poverty
- 3 – Good health and well-being
- 5 – Gender Equality
- 6 – Clean water and sanitation
- 8 – Decent work and economic growth
- 10 – Reduced inequalities
- 13 – Climate Action
- 15 – Life on Land
Find out more about the Rainforest Alliance’s work on the SDGs in this white paper.
How will the Rainforest Alliance facilitate and gather data, and how will this data be used to drive transparency?
Through the new certification system, the Rainforest Alliance will facilitate data on sustainability practices and outcomes to producers, companies, and other supply chain actors. This indicator data will be used to assess compliance, to support farm and group management self-learning, and potentially to inform other supply chain actors in a secure certificate holder “member profile.” The Rainforest Alliance will provide guidance on how to collect this data and indicators. Depending on the topic, data can be collected through a range of sources (all following a rigid and credible assurance process), such as:
- Internal sources (e.g. the farm’s or group’s internal management system; a trader or buyer monitoring and evaluation system)
- External sources (e.g. the certification assurance process; Certification Bodies or other credible and mutually agreed upon 3rd third parties)
- External Data sources (e.g. satellite imagery)
Data used for compliance and external reporting may also be verified and analyzed through the assurance process.
Data will be used to assess compliance (e.g. wages are above minimum wage) and to support self-learning (e.g. the number of identified and remediated cases of forced labor and child labor; the wage gap between men and women). This data can be used to give certificate holders better insights into the sustainability performance of their farm or group, diagnose sustainability gaps, and make plans for improvements. Data for reporting can be used to communicate compliance, improvements, and overall performance, and therefore incentivize sustainability performance. Finally, based on these various sources of information, farmers, supply chain partners, and the Rainforest Alliance can target additional interventions and advocacy efforts to drive and catalyze changes at the sectoral and landscape level.
For example, the Rainforest Alliance strives to help ensure that workers’ remuneration is sufficient for workers and their families to have a decent standard of living. As a starting point for certification, all workers should receive at least the applicable minimum wage. In addition to that, the standard requires all producers to report on wages, and as an improvement topic, to increase these wages towards a living wage. This indicator for wage and remuneration will give insights in the actual gaps of where we see large differences between actual wages paid and a living wage. Over time this information can also show the improvements that are being made and drive collaborative action with supply chain actors to set targets and develop action plans. Supply chain actors are expected to be more willing to invest in sustainability improvements, if the results of these investments can be measured and shown.