The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, two of the world’s major sustainability certification organisations, have announced their intention to merge later this year. To be named the Rainforest Alliance, the new organisation will tackle environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming.
The Rainforest Alliance, a US-headed charity and the Netherlands-headed Stichting UTZ Certified, two of the world’s major sustainability certification organisations, have announced their intention to merge later this year. To be named the Rainforest Alliance (RA), the new organisation will tackle environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming.
New organisation, new certification standard
According to a joint statement, the new Rainforest Alliance will create a single global certification standard that it says will “simplify certification for farmers and empower companies to build more responsible supply chains, more efficiently”. It will also work to expand advocacy efforts and through new partnerships ensure conservation of entire landscapes in priority regions from India to Indonesia, Guatemala to Ghana.
The future Rainforest Alliance will help ensure that more products are responsibly sourced, helping farmers and companies meet the growing demand for products with sustainable credentials. The future sustainability standard, a single certification program known as the Rainforest Alliance Standard (RAS), will utilise the respective strengths of the current Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and UTZ standards while creating a single auditing process for certificate holders.
As a result, it will be an easier path for companies to achieve proven sustainability certification, allowing them to drive innovation throughout their supply chains. Streamlining the certification process will also help the 182 000 cocoa, coffee and tea farmers currently certified under both standards and new farmers alike to invest more efficiently in sustainability, avoiding a double administrative load of working with two standards and certification systems.
Adopting the name ‘Rainforest Alliance’ helps retain well-established engagement with consumers. By combining forces, the two NGOs will provide a leading platform to help increase demand for responsibly sourced products.
Our missions are very similar, to work with farmers and communities in an effort to protect the natural environment and help mitigate the effects of climate change on a global scale. By uniting with UTZ, and partnered with SAN, we will combine our strengths to expand our impact on improving the lives of farmers and forest communities, protecting biodiversity and championing companies that are on the path to sustainability, said Nigel Sizer, current President of the Rainforest Alliance and who will take on the role of Chief Program Officer, Advocacy, Landscapes and Livelihoods after the merger.
Together, the new organisation will act as an advocate for change, continuing to protect the natural environment and striving to make sustainable agriculture and forest management the norm by working side by side with communities, businesses and governments. An aim that is already at the core of the missions of UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance.
The challenges we work on are more urgent than ever: climate change, deforestation, systemic poverty and inequality are increasingly intertwined with the way we manage land and produce food and forest products. The future Rainforest Alliance will have a bigger reach and stronger voice allowing it to better protect the natural environment and allow farmers, businesses and consumers to make even more responsible choices more easily. We have a history of continuous growth and strong partnerships – this new venture will give us more influence to bring us closer to our mission: a world where sustainable agriculture will be the norm said Han de Groot current Executive Director of UTZ and future CEO of the new Rainforest Alliance.