7 JUNE 2017, AMSTERDAM AND NEW YORK—The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, two of the world’s leading sustainability certification organizations, have announced their intention to merge later this year.
The new organization, to be named the Rainforest Alliance, will tackle environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming. It will create a single global certification standard that 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.
New organization, new certification standard
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, will utilize the respective strengths of the current Sustainable Agriculture Network 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.
Stronger together
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.
Together, the new organization 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.
Once the two organizations have merged, Han de Groot, current executive director of UTZ, will be the CEO of the Rainforest Alliance. Nigel Sizer, current president of the Rainforest Alliance, will take on the role of Chief Program Officer, Advocacy, Landscapes and Livelihoods.
The future Rainforest Alliance will continue to be a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, working in partnership with other organizations to promote sustainable agriculture.
Quote: Han de Groot, Executive Director, UTZ
“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 be 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 farming will be the norm.”
Quote: Nigel Sizer, President of the Rainforest Alliance
“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.”
Quote: Daniel Katz, Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Rainforest Alliance
“Now, more than ever, stronger collaborations are needed to ensure we are doing the best we can to create a more sustainable planet. This new alliance moves us forward in that regard as it combines first-rate global conservation efforts with the gold standards of independent third-party certification. We believe that collectively the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and the Sustainable Agriculture Network, working closer together, will benefit more farmers and more ecosystems worldwide.”
Quote: Roberto Vélez, CEO Colombian Coffee Growers Federation
“Thousands of Colombian coffee farmers who are certified by both UTZ and The Rainforest Alliance will benefit from this development. It should bring great benefits to them, such as being audited against one standard instead of two, thereby making major savings on auditing costs. This should allow coffee growers to invest more efficiently in sustainability and increase their income, hence contributing to their economic sustainability.” The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) represents more than half a million families dedicated to growing coffee in Colombia.
Quote: Jason Clay, WWF Senior Vice President, Markets and Food
“This shift offers an opportunity to help marginal producers in developing countries realize higher returns for their products through the harmonization and simplification of global certification programs. This should enable the adoption of better farming practices more quickly as well as continuous improvement in the production and sale of key commodities [such as coffee, cocoa, tea, and bananas]. I want to congratulate the leaders of both the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ for coming together in order to find a common good.”
Quote: Andre de Freitas, Executive Director of the Sustainable Agriculture Network
“The Sustainable Agriculture Network fully endorses the merger between the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ. As a key partner of the Rainforest Alliance for more than two decades, we will participate in the governance of the new organization and look forward to supporting it over the coming years.”
Quote: Pascal Baltussen, Vice President, Commercial, at Mars Chocolate
“For years Mars has supported certification with both Rainforest Alliance and UTZ as part of our commitment to certify our entire cocoa supply chain as produced in a sustainable manner. To achieve sustainability even greater impact and assurance is required, therefore we have high expectations that this merger will result in a positive transformation of farmer livelihoods and land use practices on a greater scale, which is urgently needed.”

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