The Rainforest Alliance has launched a new certification seal that can be used on product packaging and promotional materials from September 1, 2020.
In a statement released alongside its 2019 Annual Report, the international non-governmental organization based in New York City said it will also be publishing the details about the new certification program and standard at the end of June. “The current Rainforest Alliance and UTZ programs will continue to run in parallel as the transition across to it new standard takes place,” a spokesperson said.
Key social and environmental challenges
Findings from data and impacts of the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification programs across cocoa, coffee, tea and bananas include detailing projects with over two million certified farmers in more than 70 countries on key social and environmental challenges including deforestation, farmer livelihoods and child labour.
Rainforest Alliance board chairman Daniel Katz said he welcomed the range of progress that has been made across its global initiatives and the progress made in relation to sustainability and environmental protection goals including its certification scheme.
"Independent, third-party certification has proven to be one of the most powerful tools available to motivate widespread change across supply chains and production landscape. Our certification and assurance experts convened two rounds of extensive public consultation with companies, farm groups, and others who play important roles in global supply chains; their efforts will culminate in the publication of our new standard in June 2020," he said in the report.
“In our experience, certification is most effective as part of a broader effort to cultivate thriving and sustainable rural economies across vulnerable landscapes. Throughout the year, we supported farm groups and forest communities in implementing land management strategies that address common concerns affecting their livelihoods and community wellbeing, such as watershed conservation.
“We also developed technology for better farming. Our newly expanded FarmGrow initiative, for example, uses mobile devices to deliver individualised farming plans to thousands of cocoa farmers to help them increase their yields as much as three-fold. The success of all our efforts is greatly enhanced by favourable policies. Our advocacy team works to advance legislation and policies that support farming and forest communities.”
In West Africa, chocolate traders and manufacturers have responded to complex and entrenched challenges in the cocoa sector by developing The World Cocoa Foundation's Cocoa Action, a voluntary, industry-wide sustainability strategy.
The Rainforest Alliance said it has trained more than 50 auditors in Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, to collect data based on Cocoa Action indicators in support of Nestlé and Cargill commitments to the strategy.
Last year it began testing additional sustainability indicators related to production costs and shade-tree cover. Risk assessment is another area of concern for companies pursuing responsible sourcing.
The bold new certification mark represents the sustainability journey of continuous improvement The Rainforest Alliance will now use to reach its mission of ‘creating a better future for people and nature by making responsible business the new normal’.