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The Rainforest Alliance to Honor Global Leaders in Sustainability

Gala Recognizes Sustainability Practitioners Around the World with Sustainable-Setter Awards

The Rainforest Alliance is proud to announce the recipients of the 2015 Sustainable Standard-Setter Award, presented to corporate and individual leaders in sustainability. The awards will be presented on May 13th in New York City at the annual spring gala at the American Museum of Natural History. The Rainforest Alliance Sustainable-Setter Award recognizes businesses and individuals that are working diligently to meet rigorous sustainability standards, protect the environment, and support local communities worldwide.

“We are pleased to honor these extraordinary leaders who are advancing sustainability in their industries,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “It’s one thing to declare ambitious sustainability goals, but it’s another to implement them successfully and create tangible results.  That requires transparency, collaboration and innovation across sectors.  The winners of our Sustainable-Settle Awards are excellent examples of how to achieve this and we are proud to celebrate this year’s honorees.”

The gala will be hosted by Thomas Roberts, host of MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts. Roberts was previously host of MSNBC’s Way Too Early, a frequent contributor to Morning Joe, and a fill-in host for NBC’s Today. Roberts was recently honored by GLAAD with the Vito Russo Award. The award is historically presented to media professionals who have promoted equality for the LGBT community; former recipients include Tom Ford and Anderson Cooper. Returning as emcee this year is comedian Wali Collins, who helped make the 2014 gala a record-breaking success.

Gala honorees and co-chairs will gather earlier in the day and join CEOs, business leaders, and Rainforest Alliance experts at a Leadership Summit to discuss best practices in implementing sustainability goals. Following the summit, participants will gather at the American Museum of Natural History for an awards dinner, entertainment, and a silent auction. Gala proceeds benefit the Rainforest Alliance’s international work in sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism, and climate change.

2015 Lifetime Achievement Awardee: 

2015 Sustainable Standard-Setter Honorees:

2015 Gala Co-chairs:

  • Costa Rica Tourism Board
  • Mattel, Inc.

Achievements of the 2015 Rainforest Alliance honorees:

Marina Silva
Throughout her nearly 30 years in public life, Marina Silva has been a high-profile defender of the Amazon rainforest and sustainable development. Via her work as an activist and political leader in Brazil, she has continually proven herself a committed environmental advocate.

Silva has held a variety of elected posts in Brazil, including serving two terms as a senator, and she was the country’s Minister of the Environment from 2003 to 2009. She also ran for president in 2010 and since 2014, has been trying to establish Rede Sustentabilidade, a political party dedicated to building a sustainable future.

Her efforts and passion have earned her more than 50 national and international honors, including the Champions of the Earth award (2007), the United Nations’ flagship environmental prize; the World Wildlife Fund´s Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal (2009), for her outstanding leadership in creating the Amazon Regional Protected Areas program; and Prince Albert II of Monaco´s Climate Change and Energy Award (2009), for her exemplary support of the environment and sustainable development. Last year, the Financial Times Magazine named her to its list of "Women of 2014”.

Avery Dennison
Since Stan Avery first established the company in 1935, Avery Dennison has been a leader in the labeling and packaging industry, creating products and solutions in more than 50 countries and employing 25,000-plus people. Beyond its pioneering work in developing new technologies, the company is also using its scale and buying power to help move the entire industry toward responsible sourcing, a vital step for a sector that both impacts and relies on the availability of natural resources.

Change begins at home, and Avery Dennison walks the talk when it comes to its own supply chain and practices. The company has been sourcing sustainably produced paper since 2008 and projects that more than 90 percent of its paper volume will be validated by the Rainforest Alliance as coming from non-controversial sources by the end of 2015.

In addition, through a three-year commitment, the company is supporting the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to improve community forest management in Honduras.

Avery Dennison has also established internal goals for energy efficiency, waste reduction, safety, service, community investment and gender diversity. Every employee has an ownership stake in the effort, and must include at least one sustainability goal in his/her individual performance plan.

Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate
Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate is a Yorkshire family-owned business, best-known for its range of quality food and beverages, including Yorkshire Tea and Taylors market-leading roast and ground coffees. The company’s commitment to sustainability is proving to be as steadfast as its economic success.

Many of its tea and coffee products originate on Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, and Bettys & Taylors has become a role model in the industry, known for partnering with farmers and rewarding those who are doing right by their land and employees by offering these producers a price premium for their crops. In Rwanda, for example, Bettys & Taylors has worked to improve rural livelihoods by providing training on sustainable agricultural practices to more than 10,000 tea farmers. These efforts have led to better water conservation, waste management and working conditions, as well as increases in tea yields and income.

The company’s achievements with Rwandan tea producers prompted it to embark on an even larger initiative in that country, where its work with smallholder coffee farmers has resulted in Rwanda’s first Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee. And in Uganda, Bettys & Taylors has offered training to 6,000 coffee growers to help them prepare their farms for the impacts of climate change.

When William A. Breyer first began selling his ice cream in 1866, he promised his customers that it was made with only the finest ingredients. Today, Breyers® continues this legacy by using only high-quality ingredients, including those that are sustainably-farmed, in America’s favorite vanilla ice cream.

All Breyers® vanilla comes from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Madagascar. As one of the world’s largest vanilla buyers, Breyers® decision to sustainably source these aromatic vanilla pods helps support the island nation’s biodiversity-rich environment and is helping expand access to healthcare and education for Madagascan farmers and their families.

Breyers® commitment to quality through sustainably-sourced ingredients is consistent with the Sustainable Living Plan of its parent company, Unilever. The Unilever blueprint for sustainable growth focuses on reaching three impressive goals by the year 2020: 1) help more than one billion people improve their health and well-being; 2) halve the environmental footprint of its products; and 3) enhance the livelihoods of millions of people. In keeping with these sustainability goals, Breyers® is now working toward sourcing Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa.

CMPC Forestal Mininco
CMPC Forestal Mininco is part of Chilean parent company Empresas CMPC, which produces wood, pulp, tissue, and packaging in Latin America. CMPC Forestal Mininco is one of the leading producers of wood and wood products, and owns more than 1.7 million acres of forestland and plantations, and provides direct and indirect employment to more than 12,000 people.

Sustainability and social responsibility are an essential part of the company’s business model, which is focused on producing high-quality products while also promoting safety standards, education, environmental protection and development opportunities for workers and local communities.

To help achieve these goals, CMPC Forestal Mininco first got involved with the Rainforest Alliance in 2009, when it began the process of pursuing FSC certification, which it earned three years later. Since that time, it continues to assess its environmental impacts, relationship with local communities, develop the talents and skills of its workers, generate employment opportunities for local communities and offer training in sustainable practices to its contractors and suppliers.

A good example of this is the program that supports productive ventures with Mapuche communities, which consist in developing of raspberry and blueberry orchards, giving benefit to 143 Mapuche families in 33 communities.

Fibria is the world’s largest producer of hardwood eucalyptus pulp, used in products such as writing paper, tissues and other personal-hygiene papers. The company is committed to the sustainable cultivation of renewable forest resources and has achieved FSC certification for all its operations and units.

For this Brazilian producer with a global reach—Fibria exports to more than 40 countries—sustainability starts in the forest, with the planting of its eucalyptus seedlings, and extends to its relationship with surrounding communities and its support of projects that combine conservation and economic development for its neediest rural neighbors.

The company runs one of the largest biome restoration projects in Brazil, involving nearly 100,000 acres of forestland, and also supports a development program that was created to stimulate jobs and income in rural communities.

In 2014, Fibria was named “Sustainable Company of the Year” by the Brazilian magazine Exame, and the year before, the investment firm RobecoSAM (which conducts assessments for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index) included Fibria in a list of 10 businesses that are leading their respective industries on environmental, social and governance issues.

Real InterContinental San Jose – Costa Rica
When Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan American Airways, created the InterContinental hotel brand in 1946, his intention was to provide flight crews and passengers with high-end accommodations in destinations where five-star properties had not yet opened. Today that same entrepreneurial spirit has led the company’s Real InterContinental San José to become the first chain hotel in Costa Rica to earn Rainforest Alliance certification.

In recent years, the hotel’s managers have begun making changes, including switching to an ozone-warming process in its laundry facilities instead of relying on detergent, installing water-saving devices and energy-efficient light bulbs, and instituting a recycling plan. One of the most recent upgrades was the installation of a biomass boiler, which heats water using green fuel instead of diesel, thereby reducing the property’s carbon footprint, as well as its fuel costs.

Thanks to these improvements, the Real InterContinental San José earned “five-leaf” certification from the Costa Rica Tourism Board, the highest possible level, for complying with the board’s criteria for the sustainable management of natural, cultural and social resources. And the property has also obtained other important honors, including certification by the Costa Rican Blue Flag Ecological Program, as well as a slew of hospitality awards, such as the 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

Gala sponsors: DomtarNational Geographic Traveler, and Essential Costa Rica

For more information, please contact Brittany Wienke at


Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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