The Rainforest Alliance is committed to supporting certificate holders as they transition to the 2020 Certification Program. Since the new Standard came into effect in July 2021, we have seen more than 1,600 farm and supply chain certificate holders successfully achieve certification, leading the way in combating climate change and biodiversity loss and protecting human rights and farmer livelihoods.
We recognize, however, that the introduction of ambitious innovations in the certification and traceability platforms, as well as the new requirements in the 2020 standard, along with the ongoing impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, have made it more challenging for some of our partners to make the transition.
Drawing on this experience and the feedback from stakeholders, the Rainforest Alliance has decided to extend the transition timelines for farm certificate holders to allow more time to fully embrace and implement the new standard. We are also introducing more organizational support to facilitate the transition for all.
New transition timelines
For Farm Certificate Holders this means:
- Additional transition year for farm certificate holders to focus on implementation of the core requirements of the 2020 Standard.
- Farm certificate holders will only be required to implement the full certification cycle from 1 July 2023.
- Extended window until 30 September 2022 for first transition audit to give Farm certificate holders more time to complete the process.
- For Banana producers, the first transition audit needs to be finalized by Dec 31, 2022, while the second transition audit needs to be finalized by Dec 31, 2023.
Farm certificate holders who have already successfully passed a transition audit will be audited against the same core requirements in their second transition audit. They therefore have more time to prepare the requirements for the full certification cycle from 1 July 2023.
For supply chain actors, the Rainforest Alliance has decided to maintain the start of the full certification cycle from 1 July 2022 to allow companies to begin the risk based-audit schedule relevant for them, including onsite audits where these are required. In addition, the Rainforest Alliance has extended the windows for supply chain certificate holders who require a transition audit to complete the transition process.
For Supply Chain Certificate Holders this means:
- An extended window to finalize transition audits to 30 September 2022, on request.
- Those needing transition audits can request certificate/license extensions to complete the process.
- Certificate Holders who do not require a transition audit, and have not started the process for a transition audit, will begin the three-year certification cycle from 1 July 2022 based on the audit schedule determined for each verification level.
- For Banana supply chain actors, the transition audit needs to be finalized by Dec 31, 2022.
Increased support for Certificate Holders
In addition to the extended transition times, the Rainforest Alliance is putting in place a set of measures to provide increased support to certificate holders transitioning to the 2020 Certification Program. These include:
- Focused support and training for certificate holders to complete registration in the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform (RACP)
- Additional resources to respond to certificate holder questions and reduce response times
- Additional resources to support Rainforest Alliance deforestation risk analysis to avoid delays to audit processes
- In-depth training to certificate holders targeting requirements where they have the greatest difficulty with implementation, including:
- For farm certificate holders: Group Member Registry, Geodata, Assess-and-address, Living wage Salary matrix, Integrated Pest Management, Sustainability Differential and Sustainability Investments
- For Supply Chain Certificate Holders: Traceability, Sustainability Differential and Sustainability Investments, Retailer certification
- Development of additional training materials adapted to the needs of farmers
Improvements to the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform
- Improved options to select the required language
- Simplified registration process combining Organization and Certification scope
- Clearer display
- New dashboard design to show users the tasks they need to complete, and give access to training materials and guidance
- Increased resources to solve bugs in the Rainforest Alliance platforms
User-friendly documentation and tools
- Simplification of Standard Tools including:
- Group Member Registry
- Certification Application Form
- Simplification of Standard documentation and guidance:
- Update and complete translation of The General Guide to provide a single quick reference document to guide implementation
- Review of existing Standard Annexes and Guidance to improve their usability based on feedback from stakeholders by 1 July 2022
- Development of contextualized guidance when needed on standard requirements that certificate holders find difficult to implement in specific countries or crops to support consistent interpretation and better implementation.