The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ to Merge
The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, two of the world’s leading sustainability certification organisations, have announced their intention to merge later this year.
The new organisation, 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.
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 programme 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.
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 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. This is an aim that is already at the core of the missions of UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance.
Once the two organisations have merged, Han de Groot, current executive director of UTZ, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, will be the CEO of the Rainforest Alliance. Nigel Sizer, current president of the New York-based Rainforest Alliance, will take on the role of chief programme 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 organisations to promote sustainable agriculture.
Han de Groot says, “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. This new venture will give us more influence to bring us closer to our mission: a world where sustainable farming will be the norm.”
Echoing the sentiment, Nigel Sizer, president of the Rainforest Alliance, comments, “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 partnering 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.”
Roberto Vélez, CEO of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), believes thousands of Colombian coffee farmers who are certified by both UTZ and The Rainforest Alliance will benefit from the merger. “It should bring great benefits to [coffee farmers], 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.”