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The Rainforest Alliance Announces 2014 Sustainable Standard-Setter Honorees

Annual Spring Gala Recognizes Global Leaders in Sustainability

The Rainforest Alliance, a global sustainability nonprofit, is proud to announce the recipients of the 2014 Sustainable Standard-Setter Award. The awards will be presented on May 7 at the annual spring gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The award honors businesses and individuals that champion sustainability efforts, protect the environment and support local communities worldwide. This year’s Honorary Chair will be new board member and environmental ambassador Gisele Bündchen.

“The Rainforest Alliance gala, which this year follows the theme “Celebrate Sustainability,” provides the perfect platform to honor companies and thought leaders who have made serious commitments to sustainability,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “Our mission to foster environmental stewardship, social responsibility and mindful consumption is bolstered by new and ongoing collaborations with companies that are leading the way to a more sustainable future.”

2014 Lifetime Achievement Awardee:

2014 Sustainable Standard-Setter Honorees:

2014 Honorary Chair and Special Guest:

  • Gisele Bündchen

2014 Gala Co-chairs:

  • AMResorts
  • Olam International Ltd.

Gala honorees and co-chairs will gather on May 7 with business leaders and Rainforest Alliance staff representatives for a day-long workshop where panelists and presenters will discuss ways in which certification, sustainability and mindful consumption are shaping various industries. Following the workshop, participants will gather at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for an awards dinner, dancing and a silent auction. Gala proceeds benefit the Rainforest Alliance’s global efforts in sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism and climate change.

Achievements of the 2014 Gala Honorees:

Paul Polman -- Lifetime Achievement Awardee

Since his appointment as CEO of Unilever in 2009, Paul Polman has worked to align one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies around a new ethos of serving society and acting as a net contributor to communities and the global environment. Guided by the company’s Sustainable Living Plan, this directive reflects Polman’s goal to ensure that sustainable living and responsible business informs everything Unilever does.


During Polman’s tenure, Unilever’s collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance has expanded significantly. Roughly 50 percent of the company’s tea now originates on Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms and Unilever is working toward sourcing 100 percent of its raw agricultural materials from sustainable origins (that figure currently stands at 47 percent). Unilever is committed to using its global reach to help put an end to illegal deforestation, mitigate the impact of natural refrigerants on the global climate, improve food security and sanitation, combat unemployment and defend the rights of women and children.

Polman served as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, helping to craft a new plan for global sustainable development. He is the current Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. He also runs the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, a foundation that works to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired children in East Africa.

C.F. Martin & Co., Inc. -- Sustainable Standard-Setter

C. F. Martin & Co. (Martin Guitar) has been family-owned and operated since it was founded in 1833. As Martin Guitar’s current chairman and CEO, Christian (Chris) F. Martin IV represents the sixth generation of Martin guitar makers and maintains an impressive dedication to using forests sustainably so that his daughter’s generation can continue to craft and enjoy top-of-the-line acoustic guitars.

Since developing an ecological policy in 1990, Martin Guitar has been committed to buying as much sustainable, third-party-verified timber as possible. The company has played matchmaker with Forest Stewardship Council- (FSC) certified forests and sawmills, building a stronger connection between responsible suppliers and other organizations within the music industry.

Martin Guitar achieved FSC chain-of-custody certification from the Rainforest Alliance in 1997 and again in 2007. In 2009, the company became one of the first guitar manufacturers in the industry to produce an acoustic guitar model comprised entirely of FSC-certified woods.

Livia Firth -- Sustainable Standard-Setter

Livia Firth has revolutionized eco-friendly fashion and has inspired world-renowned influencers to embrace an ambitious, creative and groundbreaking vision of sustainable living.

In 2007 Firth co-founded Eco-Age Ltd, a sustainable brand consultancy and, as its creative director, she launched The Green Carpet Challenge (GCC®) in 2009. By pairing A-list celebrities with environmentally responsible fashion from the world’s top designers, the GCC® has greened red carpet events all over the globe by spotlighting responsible fashion while also addressing industry-wide issues such as sourcing and waste. Eco-Age and the Green Carpet Challenge® recently achieved two historical firsts: Chopard partnered with The Alliance for Responsible Mining to source Fairmined gold for an exclusive Green Carpet High Jewellery Collection, and Gucci produced the first-ever zero deforestation certified leather item with a GCC® brand marked luxury handbag collection made from leather sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified ranches in the Brazilian Amazon.

Firth, who was awarded the UN Leader of Change award in 2012, the UN Fashion 4 Development Award and the Harper’s Bazaar Woman of the Year award in 2013, is also an Oxfam Global Ambassador and a founding member of Annie Lennox’s “The Circle,” an influential women's advocacy group.

Grupo JD -- Sustainable Standard-Setter

In 2012, Brazilian agricultural conglomerate Grupo JD made history when the four ranches that comprise its cattle operation, Fazendas São Marcelo, became the first in the world to earn Rainforest Alliance certification for sustainable cattle production.

In total, about 60,000 cattle graze on the ranches' sustainably managed pastures. Grupo JD ensures that the animals are well-treated and fed a natural diet that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and takes a special interest in the well-being of its workers, providing training and education to ranchers and their families.

Located in the Mato Grosso state in western Brazil, Grupo JD’s ranches cover a total area of 79,000 acres (32,000 hectares), including a 32,000-acre (13,000-hectare) reserve in the Amazon. This protected area helps to buffer natural forests and provide shelter and migratory habitat for wildlife. Grupo JD also maintains Rainforest Alliance Certified vineyards in eastern Brazil.

Mattel -- Sustainable Standard-Setter

Mattel collaborated with the Rainforest Alliance to develop its Sustainable Sourcing Principles and establish a goal of using 85 percent recycled and sustainably-sourced paper and wood fiber in its packaging. As part of its commitment to sustainable sourcing, Mattel strives to expand the use of post-consumer recycled content, avoid controversial fiber sources and increase the amount of certified fiber in its portfolio. Finally, by leveraging the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartSource tool, Mattel is implementing a credible program to better understand its sourcing risks and to increase the transparency and traceability of its supply chain.

Mattel is also committed to making children’s lives better through the philanthropic work of the Mattel Children’s Foundation, which supports domestic and international programs and offers international scholarships to the children of employees.

McLeod Russel India Limited -- Sustainable Standard-Setter 

Thanks to its 87,000 employees in India, Vietnam, Uganda and Rwanda, McLeod Russel--the world’s largest private sector tea plantation company--produces 253 million pounds (115 million kilograms) of tea across 63 estates and 62 factories. These impressive numbers parallel the company’s similarly impressive commitment to ensuring social and economic development that sustains and improves its employees’ quality of life.

In 2009, McLeod Russel achieved Rainforest Alliance certification on 10 of its estates; four more were certified in 2010 and 20 more followed in 2013 in India. In addition, five tea estates in Uganda, one in Rwanda and three in Vietnam achieved certification over the past two years. The company’s support has been instrumental in helping its smallholder farmers in Rwanda and Uganda achieve Rainforest Alliance Certified status in 2012 and early 2014 respectively. In the coming years, McLeod Russel hopes to achieve certification on all of its plantations in order to reach standards set through the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) guidelines.

The company’s commitment to promoting the welfare of its employees has been particularly important in India’s Assam region. There, McLeod Russel has pursued a number of health and education initiatives that cater to employees, and, since 1995, the company has worked to improve local standards of living by promoting traditional woven textiles made by women belonging to the Bodo ethnic community.

Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. -- Sustainable Standard-Setter

Throughout its 97-year-history, Morinaga Milk--a leading producer of dairy products and other food and beverages in Japan--has prided itself on harmonizing its practices and products with the environment. By joining forces with the Rainforest Alliance to source responsibly grown coffee for its Mt. Rainier Double Espresso and tea for its Lipton Extra Shot, Morinaga Milk has added to its legacy of pursuing sustainable principles on the farms from which it sources its coffee and in its offices.

In 2009, Morinaga Milk came to the Rainforest Alliance intent on finding a farm that not only grew high-quality coffee beans but also prioritized environmental sustainability and the welfare of its employees. The company settled on Daterra Coffee, a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm in Brazil’s Cerrado that boasts impressive sustainability credentials and is home to a variety of wildlife, including jaguars, owls, giant anteaters and macaws.

Now, with annual sales of $5.6 billion, Morinaga Milk is helping its consumers in Japan and around the globe to conserve the environment with every cup of coffee and tea they drink.

Nell Newman -- Sustainable Standard-Setter 

Recognizing the negative impacts of industrial agriculture on communities, wildlife and the global environment, Nell Newman co-founded Newman’s Own Organics in 1993 with business partner Peter Meehan. Ever since, the company has produced a wide range of great-tasting products that are also organic.

As part of Newman’s Own Organics’ commitment to sustainable agriculture, all of the cocoa in its Signature Series of chocolate bars comes from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. The company has also set up a bonus program for its cocoa farmers and is dedicated to helping them produce environmentally friendly, high-quality products for their families as well as yours.

Newman has a long philanthropic history, having worked at several environmental nonprofits before co-founding Newman’s Own Organics, which pays a royalty to the Newman’ Own Foundation. In 2010 Newman established her own small foundation dedicated to the environment and a sustainable future.

Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association -- Sustainable Standard-Setter 

The Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association (NSLFFPA) first started organizing woodlot owners behind a vision of better prices in 1967, and in the subsequent decades, it expanded that vision, aiming to make Nova Scotia the greenest constituency in North America. Thanks to its early commitment to the FSC standard, and an expanding agenda of sustainable activities, it’s already well on its way toward making that dream a reality.

Through the NSLFFPA’s engagement with the Rainforest Alliance, more than 230 of its members are FSC-certified, resulting in 64,247 acres (26,000 hectares) of certified forestland. The NSLFFPA is also working to make forests more climate resilient by managing toward late successional species that are regionally appropriate and educating woodlot owners about what they can do to improve the resilience and future quality of woodlots.

Oriflame -- Sustainable Standard-Setter 

Oriflame understands that as a beauty company selling products in more than 60 countries, it impacts the world in a multitude of ways. That’s why it strives to integrate sustainability into everything it does, limiting its environmental footprint while improving the lives of those touched by its operations.

Working alongside the Rainforest Alliance, Oriflame developed a new policy governing its wood-based products use in 2010. Since then, Oriflame has tracked its paper consumption and devised a sustainable paper sourcing strategy, significantly increasing the share of FSC-certified and recycled material used in its catalogues, its paper-based components, its shipping boxes and paper-based accessories.

In 2012, Oriflame launched Ecobeauty, the first global, cross-category cosmetic range to receive accreditation from four leading independent sustainability organizations (Fairtrade, Ecocert, the Vegan Society and the FSC). Oriflame has also been a pioneering force within the cosmetics industry by buying and supporting sustainably sourced palm oil.

Sabre -- Sustainable Standard-Setter

A founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Sabre and its companies--including Travelocity--have helped the travel industry soar to new sustainable heights. Since 2006, when it discerned that customers were increasingly concerned about their own environmental impacts, Sabre has worked to provide travelers and travel suppliers with programs and tools that help them make responsible choices and to promote sustainable travel.

Sabre’s Eco-Certified Hotel Program, for example, is an industry first: it provides travelers with an easy way to find and book Eco-Certified accommodations and was developed in consultation with the Rainforest Alliance. Sabre’s Eco-Certified hotels are available across all Sabre platforms and include over 8,000 hotels, including Rainforest Alliance Verified™ accommodations from Latin America.

As one of the first companies in any industry to build a LEED campus as their corporate headquarters, Sabre’s impact has been local as well as global. It has implemented sustainable practices within its data centers and facilities, and its Less to Landfill waste diversion initiative has been an inspiration to other businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Gala sponsors:  Domtar, Nespresso and National Geographic Traveler.


Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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