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Greenovation: How the Certification and Sustainability Sectors Are Reinventing the Future of Their Industries

The May 15 “Sustainability and Certification Innovation Workshop” at Citi’s Court Square offices in New York is a daylong conference of expert panels, briefings and interview opportunities with global business leaders, distinguished sustainability and certification experts, and farmers, foresters and tourism businesses from around the world. The event is sponsored by the Rainforest Alliance, a global nonprofit and leader in sustainability certification for agriculture, forestry and tourism—industries whose environmental and social impacts and sensitivities are among the highest in the world.

Not only do certification and sustainability programs in these key sectors continue to grow rapidly and gain market share (for example Reuters recently reported that production of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee reached an all-time high of 4.5 percent of global output in 2012, up from 3.3 percent in 2011), they are rapidly supplying innovations that will change and help secure the future of their industries. According to KPMG, “sustainability megaforces”—from population growth, food security and resource scarcity to deforestation, ecosystem decline and climate change—will affect every business’s performance and profitability within 20 years. The food and beverage sectors are at the highest risk, according to a new study. Climate change threatens crops such as coffee and cocoa, and agribusiness generally has the largest exposure to external environmental costs ($200 billion in 2010). In agriculture, forestry and tourism, certified and sustainable businesses, including some of the world’s largest, are confronting and solving emerging sustainability problems and pioneering innovations that the rest of their industries may soon depend on.


Global business leaders, producers, financiers and sustainability experts working with the Rainforest Alliance to create these innovations will discuss them at the workshop. Presenters and panelists include, among others:

Daudi Lelijveld, VP Sustainability, Barry Callebaut AG.

Barry Callebaut is the world’s leading manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products for the global food industry. It is training rural cocoa farmers in West Africa in certified sustainable cocoa farming and protecting biodiversity on the borders of the region’s largest remaining island of forest.

Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO, Nespresso, newly appointed in March, 2013.

This year marks 10 years of cooperation between Nespresso and the Rainforest Alliance on the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program, which plays an integral role within the company. The program provides training and technical assistance to support farmers and improve sustainability and productivity while maintaining the highest quality crops. Concrete results on AAA's economic, environmental and social impacts are reported in a new study to be released at the workshop.

Román Irurre Wolfisberg, Creating Shared Value Manager, NESTLÉ Corporate Head Offices in Vevey, Switzerland.

NESTLÉ‘s Nescafé, the world's largest coffee brand, sources and sells about 10 percent of the world's coffee beans. It is working to scale up sustainable coffee production, raising farmers’ yields and incomes with sustainable techniques (and without GMOs).

Gerard A. Manley, Managing Director of Cocoa Business, Olam International Ltd.

Olam is a global leader in the supply chain management of agricultural products and food ingredients. It is taking an integral “landscape” approach to mitigating climate change and supply chain risks in its work with cocoa farmers in Ghana, helping them meet climate-friendly farming standards and qualify for REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) financing.

(Tata Global Beverages Representative TBA)

Tata Global Beverages, which includes Tetley, is the world's second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea. In 2010, Tetley committed to sourcing 100 percent of its tea from certified sustainable farms and it is already halfway to its goal. Since 2011, it has successfully used Facebookto directly connect tea farmers to tea consumers worldwide.

Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive, Kingfisher plc.

Kingfisher is Europe’s leading home improvement retail group, with over 1000 stores in eight countries in Europe and Asia. It has pledged to source all timber and paper it sells from proven sustainable sources by 2020 and it is the first retailer to label and cut toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in its paints.

Chris Coates, Director of Sales, IndoTeak Design.

IndoTeak Design solved the difficult problem of obtaining sustainably produced teak by purchasing reclaimed teak at auction and re-using it to craft flooring, paneling, mosaic tiles and decking.

Andrés Ordóñez L., General Manager, Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve.

Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve is an award-winning destination nestled in Ecuador’s spectacular Yasuni National Park, located a ten days’ walk from the nearest road. It is owned and managed by the Achuar indigenous people, who built it using local materials, traditional, low-impact, environmentally friendly techniques, and earned Rainforest Alliance verification for its commitment to sustainable tourism.

Gonzalo Del Peon, President, AMResorts.

AMResorts has six luxury resort brands spread across 32 properties in Mexico, Jamaica, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic. Its sustainability initiatives include a number of wildlife conservation programs and enterprises designed to benefit local communities.

Alejandro Escobar, Senior Investment and Operations Officer, Multilateral Investment Fund, Inter-American Development Bank.

Escobar will discuss expanding access to finance for sustainable producers and how to incorporate and incentivize sustainability in finance.

Jorge Cuevas, Director of Trade Operations, Sustainable Harvest.

Sustainable Harvest is an importer of high-quality specialty-grade coffees from 15 countries. It promotes investment in farmer training and development in coffee communities to bring a reliable, traceable, premium product to roasters.

Tensie Whelan, President, Rainforest Alliance.

The Rainforest Alliance works to ensure that hundreds of millions of acres of forests, farms, ranchlands and hotel properties meet rigorous sustainability standards and that the rights and well-being of their workers are safeguarded. The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal and Rainforest Alliance Verified™ mark allow consumers to identify responsibly produced goods and services and demonstrate that sustainable businesses can thrive in the global economy.

Daniel R. Katz, Board Chair, Rainforest Alliance. 

He is the former executive director (1986-2000) of the Rainforest Alliance, which he co-founded in 1986 at the age of 24. He also serves as senior program director at The Overbrook Foundation where he directs the Foundation's environmental giving in the areas of international biodiversity and sustainable consumption and production.

Moderators include:

Roger Deromedi, former CEO of Kraft Foods, current Non-Executive Chairman of Pinnacle Foods and an advisor to private equity firms on food and beverages

Pinnacle Foods is a publicly traded food company whose brands include Birdseye frozen vegetables, Duncan Hines cake mixes and Vlasic pickles.

Sonila Cook, Partner and Global Head of Energy and Environment, Dalberg Global Development Advisors.

Cook leads Dalberg's initiatives in sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, sustainable cities, sustainable fisheries and sustainable tourism.

When & Where:

The May 15, 2013 workshop takes place from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the offices of Citi, 1 Court Square, Long Island City, New York. It’s fast and easy to get there; the building houses the Court Square subway stop, which is just three stops east of Grand Central Station, or one stop east of the Lexington Avenue/53rd Street station on the E and M lines.

Journalists and bloggers are invited to attend and cover. Participants can grant side interviews during the workshop, as well as phone or in-studio interviews at other times, on request. They can also be interviewed the same day from 6:00 – 7:00 PM at a cocktail reception preceding the Rainforest Alliance's gala awards dinner at the American Museum of Natural History, on Central Park West at 79th Street. 

Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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