The Rainforest Alliance is working on new proposals aimed at the strengthening of its pioneering Cocoa Certification Program, which is the world’s largest scale initiative to drive more sustainable cocoa farming.
With its stepped-up Cocoa Certification Program, the 33-year-old organization says it is amplifying and reiterating its call for ‘all participants in the cocoa industry to take a proactive role in creating improvement through stronger interventions’.
Transparency and shared responsibility
Rainforest Alliance said it sees transparency and shared responsibility as essential to building a sustainable sector, and these new measures mark the first stage of its enhanced certification program for all sectors that will be published in June and rolled out in the subsequent 12 months.
This announcement follows two-years of comprehensive analysis on the evolution of Rainforest Alliance’s entire certification process. This analysis identified ongoing challenges in the cocoa sector and helped develop viable approaches. The organization said it has committed to invest more than $2m in improving the approach to assurance and transparency and will launch a new $5m Cocoa Sector Transformation Fund to support more sustainable cocoa farming in West and Central Africa.
“We are proud to announce a significantly stronger program that paves the way for Rainforest Alliance to reimagine certification on a broad scale,” said Alex Morgan chief markets officer at Rainforest Alliance. “We are confident that these improvements will go a long way in building more comprehensive interventions to help address child labor, improve the lives of farmers, and further curtail the environmental impact.”
The latest upgrades reflect Rainforest Alliance’s continued commitment toward addressing core challenges in the cocoa sector: farmer livelihoods, child labor, and deforestation, it said in a statement.
‘With the support of the cocoa industry, the Rainforest Alliance is taking this unprecedented action to facilitate greater accountability and oversight in the cocoa sector. The organization’s goal is to improve the economic, social, and environmental conditions of the cocoa industry – beginning with the millions of smallholder farmers in the first mile of cocoa production.’
“To be clear, our work is not done; nor can we do this alone. It is critical that all participants in the cocoa industry – producers, companies, governments, NGOs, and others – take a more active and permanent role in tackling these issues. Rainforest Alliance will remain vigilant and continue to develop approaches that drive impact through a stronger and more sustainable approach,” Morgan said.
The Rainforest Alliance’s strengthened cocoa certification program includes stricter audit rules and enhanced traceability and performance monitoring systems. In order to drive supply chain accountability, the improved certification program also features clear metrics on shared responsibility.