The Rainforest Alliance has dedicated more than three decades to amplifying the voices of farmers and forest communities, improving livelihoods, protecting biodiversity, and helping people mitigate and adapt to climate change in bold and effective ways. In partnership with these communities, as well as companies large and small, the Rainforest Alliance works to affect change at every stage of production.
To celebrate the accomplishments of these exemplary communities and companies, the Rainforest Alliance will hold its 32nd spring gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on May 8th.
Aligned with this year’s theme, Change is in the Air, the groups and individuals honored at the gala have demonstrated innovation and dedication to protecting our global landscapes while adapting to a rapidly changing environment. This work includes the daily grind of harvesting, planning, and managing lands, but also involves bringing local communities, businesses, and other diverse allies together.
“We need the daily, incremental changes, and we need the big-picture paradigm shifts to really make sustainable practices transcend to mainstream action,” said Han de Groot, CEO of the Rainforest Alliance. “It’s this balance of daily actions and long-term commitments to a more sustainable future that inspire and allow all of us to continue working towards a future in which people and nature thrive in harmony.”
During the day on May 8th, the gala honorees will join sustainability business leaders, NGOs, and Rainforest Alliance experts at its annual Sustainability Summit, held this year at the TimesCenter, to discuss some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. This year’s theme—Climate, Landscapes, and the Countdown to 2020—will focus on the significant 2020 sustainability commitments made by companies across the globe, the progress they have made, and the work that still needs to be done to achieve these targets.
Following the summit, honorees and participants will gather at the gala in the evening for dinner, entertainment, and a silent auction.
The gala is sponsored by Domtar, Vignobles Sullivan, Lavazza, and Maestro Dobel Tequila. Gala proceeds benefit the Rainforest Alliance’s comprehensive, international conservation initiatives.
2019 Community Leadership Award
Klasik Beans Cooperative
The Klasik Beans cooperative of West Java, Indonesia, has taken its commitment to sustainability and forest conservation well beyond the limits of its own farmland. Formed in 2009 to focus on conservation and reforestation after illegal logging caused the devastating 2004 Mandalawangi mountain landslide, the cooperative has grown from eight coffee farmers to 516, whose land covers a total of 548 hectares. Together, their coffee agroforests help to prevent erosion and future landslides, protect water sources, and safeguard wildlife habitats. Their efforts reached a major milestone when the cooperative achieved Rainforest Alliance certification in early 2019.
In addition to transforming their land, the farmers of Klasik Beans frequently travel to disaster sites in other parts of the country to assist with rescues and to share knowledge about agroforestry as a long-term solution to the perils posed by deforestation. They continue to improve surrounding communities and landscapes through their commitment to educate others about the benefits of forest conservation.
Eko Purnomowidi, the co-founder of Klasik Beans, and Deden Rizal Pahlevi, their account manager, will accept the award on behalf of the cooperative.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Roberto Hernández and Family
The Hernández family’s passion for the natural wonders and indigenous cultures of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula goes back generations—as does its commitment to conserving the precious ecosystems and traditions found there. For decades, the family has worked on a local, national, and international level to promote community development, nature conservation, and sustainability in the Yucatán, with a particular focus on lifting the voices of the indigenous communities, youth, and women there who have been historically excluded from making decisions about their own lands and resources.
The Hernández family’s many achievements include conserving and rehabilitating hundreds of thousands of acres of nature reserves; helping landholders switch from high-impact agricultural practices to holistic methods, eliminating pesticides and improving local incomes; creating waste management programs; establishing marine protection areas; addressing causes of local deforestation; and fostering environmental education and biodiversity for tens of thousands of students. In addition, the Hernández family has awarded scholarships, promoted health and urban development initiatives, and supported efforts to preserve cultural traditions. It would be hard to overstate the positive impact that the Hernández family has had on nature and local people.
Richard Zell Donovan
Joining the Rainforest Alliance at nearly its inception, Richard Donovan has led and expanded the organization’s forestry program since 1992. He has dedicated almost three decades to developing the Rainforest Alliance’s key policies and positions on forestry, advising on its agriculture and climate programs, and working with major retailers and brands to adopt more sustainable sourcing practices and tackle deforestation in their supply chains.
Donovan’s passion and expertise in the forestry industry expands beyond just the scope of the Rainforest Alliance. In 1993, Donovan was instrumental in the development of the Forest Stewardship Council, as a founding member and co-chairperson of the original FSC Principles and Criteria Working Group. With extensive field experience in tropical, temperate, and boreal forests, he serves as a lead auditor for forest managements, as well as a key advisor to other organizations like the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Forest & Trade Network.