The Rainforest Alliance names Santiago Gowland its new CEO

Santiago Gowland has joined the Rainforest Alliance as chief executive officer (CEO), effective 18 May. He will be based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Gowland succeeds Han de Groot, who left the Rainforest Alliance (RA) in Spring 2020 after a 10-year career with the organisation, including eight years with UTZ prior to the January 2018 merger. Since de Groot’s departure, board member Annemieke Wijn has worked with the leadership team in an interim role, as RA launched the search for a new CEO.

Gowland, a native of Argentina with a passion for conservation and sustainability, brings extensive expertise in organizational innovation and sustainability transformation across multiple sectors, cultures, and continents. His career is focused on bridging supply chain and landscape needs through business innovations for leading brands including Unilever, Nike and Estée Lauder.

Gowland most recently served as executive vice president for Latin America and Global Innovation at The Nature Conservancy. At The Nature Conservancy, he championed the green technology strategy through systems innovation, partnerships with technology companies, and embracing lean methodologies — most notably, through the pioneering “Agility Lab.”

“I am thrilled to contribute my global conservation and business insights to accelerate the Rainforest Alliance’s vision of a world where people and nature thrive together. It’s crucial that we leverage social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities without delay. The Rainforest Alliance is uniquely positioned to bring farmers, forest communities, companies and consumers together to build a more sustainable and resilient future for people and nature,” Gowland said.

The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit working in more than 70 countries to protect forests and biodiversity, take action on climate, and promote the rights and improve the livelihoods of rural people.

The organisation transforms the way the world produces, sources, and consumes, with a focus on cocoa, coffee, tea, bananas, forest products, and palm oil. Its four areas of work are certification, landscape management, supply chain services, and advocacy.

In 2020, 6.8 million hectares of land and more than 2.3 million farmers were certified according to the Rainforest Alliance’s rigorous sustainability standards, which are designed to improve economic, environmental, and social impacts for people and nature.

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