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(Sm)All Hands on Deck: Why Smallholder Farms and Forest Communities Are Key to Implementing Global Sustainability Goals

The Paris climate agreement is newly signed, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are promulgated, and hundreds of major corporations have made deforestation-free and sustainable sourcing commitments.  Now comes the hard part:  implementation. 

“All hands on deck” was a mantra of the Paris climate talks. More specifically, reaching those ambitious sustainability and climate goals will depend significantly on how we manage the land sector, including agriculture and forestry, which emits 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas.

Achieving sustainability in the land sector greatly depends on working with those small producers, especially community forests and smallholder farmers. A third of tropical forests are under some form of community control. Those forests sequester 29 times the annual CO2 emissions of all passenger vehicles on the planet, and house more biodiversity than any other ecosystem on earth—but are under the most pressure from clearing for timber and cropland. And more than 2 billion people depend on the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers. Smallholders and community forests have vast potential to feed the growing population sustainably and help end deforestation—and are key to implementing the SDGs. But to realize these ambitious goals, they’ll need appropriate support: effective forest governance, technical assistance, funding and credit access, and connections to markets and value chains.

Sustainable certification schemes, civil society, government at all levels, business, and producer communities are increasingly recognizing that to achieve sustainability on a global scale, they all need to work closely together and integrate various approaches. At the May 11 Leadership Summit in New York (details below), leaders from all these fields, from CEOs to a forest community leader from Peru, will meet to discuss their collaborative sustainability work and will be available for interviews.


On May 11, 2016, CEOs of major companies and other leading sustainability practitioners from around the world will gather in New York for a Leadership Summit on implementing sustainability goals. The Leadership Summit is organized by the Rainforest Alliance and sponsored by Credit Suisse.


Global sustainability leaders in the business, government and NGO sectors will participate on May 11, including those listed below. To RSVP or request side interviews, contact Brittany Wienke,, 646-452-1939, or Stephen Kent,, 914-589-5988.

  • Nigel Sizer, new President of the Rainforest Alliance, which works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Previously the Global Director of the Forests Program at the World Resources Institute, where he led partnerships such as Global Forest Watch, Sizer brings with him 25 years of international experience in natural resource management.
  • David Blood, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Generation Investment Management. Founded in partnership with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Generation is dedicated to investing in sustainable businesses and promoting sustainable capitalism. Blood will give the keynote talk at the Leadership Summit.
  • Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo, Director of the Government of Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative. The Government of Norway recognizes the power of tropical forests to mitigate climate change, provide habitat for precious flora and fauna, and serve as socioeconomic safety nets to some of the world’s poorest people. The Government financially rewards forested countries for successes in reducing deforestation; supports organizations working on human rights, deforestation, and law enforcement issues; and invests in increasing forest protection transparency, including through Global Forest Watch 2.0.
  • Juana Payaba Cachique, activist and former president of Tres Islas, a community in the Madre de Dios region of Peru that now harvests wood and non-timber forest products sustainably. She has led the fight against illegal logging and destructive mining activities in Tres Islas.
  • Andre de Freitas, Executive Director of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, an international organization dedicated to promoting the environmental and social sustainability of agricultural activities through the development of standards for best practices, certification and training for rural farmers around the world.
  • Elysa HammondDirector of Environmental Stewardship at Clif Bar. Since 2012, Clif Bar & Co. has partnered with the Rainforest Alliance to source 100 percent of its non-organic cacao from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. In addition, 100 percent of the company’s organic palm kernel oil is both Rainforest Alliance and RSPO-IP certified. Clif Bar is currently working with the Rainforest Alliance to transition its conventional palm kernel oil sourcing to Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
  • Marilu Hernández, President, Fundación Haciendas del Mundo Maya, a Mexican organization dedicated to generating new opportunities for communities and individuals in the Mayan world while balancing cultural wealth with sustainable economic development. Hernández is also a member of the Rainforest Alliance’s Board of Directors.
  • Nate Shepley Streed, Sustainability Manager, Kroger Co., one of the world’s largest food retailers. Kroger Co. operates 2,700 stores under two dozen banners across the United States. The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal appears on many of Kroger’s offerings such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and roses.
  • Sonila Cook, partner and global head of energy and environment at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, and a member of Rainforest Alliance’s Board of Directors.
  • Matt van Vleet, Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Clearwater Paper Company. Clearwater is a leader in FSC Certified products, offering a complete selection of home paper goods, with quality tiers from economy to ultra-premium.

Other participants include leaders from AMResorts, Avery Dennison, Breyers, Chiquita, Clif Bar, Columbia Forest Products, Domtar, Lavazza, and more.

Where and When?

The Leadership Summit on implementing sustainability takes place Wednesday, May 11 from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Credit Suisse, One Madison Avenue, East Auditorium, 1st Floor, New York, NY.  Journalists and bloggers are invited to attend. Side interviews can be arranged on request, whether during the workshop or phone or in-studio interviews at other times.

Participants can also be interviewed later that evening, May 11, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM at a cocktail reception preceding the Rainforest Alliance's gala awards dinner. For more information please visit the gala event page.

To RSVP for the summit and/or the cocktail, or to request an interview, contact Brittany Wienke, bwienke@ra.org646-452-1939, or Stephen Kent,, 914-589-5988.


Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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