The Rainforest AllianceJuan Aldaz
Recent findings from the United States Environmental Protection Agency continue the mounting proof that Climate Change is real, that’s why we want to show in this article, the importance of The Rainforest Alliance’s work around the world (see: Report: Federal climate findings counter Trump’s stance on climate change – CBS News – Aug 8, 2017).
Founded in 1987 by Daniel Katz, the Rainforest Alliance is a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on certifying farms and businesses which actively conserve biodiversity and sustainability in land use, business management practices, and consumer behavior. The Alliance is based in New York City, has offices across North and South America, but operates across the globe.
Today, the Rainforest Alliance is active in 78 countries at varying levels. Some key statistics which illustrate how widespread their certification and educational programs include:
- Over 6,000 teachers have been trained to incorporate the Rainforest Alliance’s curriculum into the classroom
- The Alliance’s Sustainable Forest initiatives have led to $130M earned by forest communities and indigenous populations globally.
- Over 100,000 students have studied their specialized environmental curricula
- When equated to Carbon balance and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Rainforest Alliance claims they have removed or avoided emissions from the equivalent of 8.8 million cars as a result of their validated projects.
There are 1.3 million farms using methods designed and developed with or by the Alliance, with 12.3 million people having been trained in the earth-friendly land management practices contained in their certification and educational programs. Ultimately, the Alliance claims there are approximately 1.4 million acres (42 million hectares) of land under their sustainable management systems.
There are primarily five areas of focus in the organization, including Agriculture, Carbon, Education, Forestry, and Tourism.
You might ask, why use a frog on your certification seal? Well, the Rainforest Alliance feels that a frog signifies environmental health. They are found on every continent, other than Antarctica. Their seal of certification is awarded only to enterprises which have been audited and determined to meet specific standards in environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Thousands of products across the world have earned the Seal.
While some organizations and groups might feel this certification, doesn’t go ‘far enough’, it sure is a good start. Balancing impact-driven standards with practicality allows for greater results on a global scale.
Driven by criteria set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN, which is a coalition of leading conservation groups that work to promote sustainable agriculture), they work on three lines of sustainability activities that drive their standards are social, economic, and environmental. Farmers are trained in these standards and then, they are regularly audited to verify compliance with them. The Standard includes the following features:
- Biodiversity conservation
- Improved livelihoods and human well-being
- Natural resource conservation
- Effective planning and farm management systems
The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), is the largest sustainable forestry standard setter in the world. The Rainforest Alliance was one of the original members and organization development groups with the FSC. Products that bear the FSC mark and the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal are sourced from forests that certify:
- Protection of endangered species
- Forest Reserve set-aside programs instilled in their management plan.
- Promote and actively implement human rights activities, including the provision of decent wages and protect their workers’ ability to organize
- Follow FSC guidelines that determine how, when, and where timber and non-timber forest products are harvested
- Respect the rights of local communities and indigenous people
Aligned to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, this category of certification is focused on minimizing environmental harm and supporting local cultures, worker rights, and community interests at the local level, the Rainforest Alliance Certification program rewards such proprietors with their Seal when tourism businesses illustrate via audit that they meet criteria written specifically toward the following requirements:
- Protection of nearby ecosystems
- Wise use of natural resources
- Climate change mitigation
- Benefits to the social and cultural development of surrounding communities
Incorporating Programs like the Rainforest Alliance Certification into the many businesses that rely on and work in conjunction with the environment, helps the world move toward taking Sustainability seriously, mitigating Climate Change, improving worker conditions, and helping us continue to move toward feeding the rapidly increasing need to feed the world. Creating these benefits to our planet with an economic and social incentive is the key to continuing the positive changes across all industries.
As we see the use of mechanization in developed countries to increase the efficiencies of food production, working along side organizations like this will help us advance our global responsibility to the environment.
Think globally, act locally.. every step each of us takes to advance our efficiency impacts our environment…by taking on this mantra in that mission, the world will continue developing along with the sustainability so important to generations that follow.
Learn more about the Rainforest Alliance Certification program, as well as other collaborations by visiting their website at: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org