Markets working to support sustainable development

Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Certification

The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal appears on products if the producers have complied with the standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). These standards are predominantly environmental, however they also include social and economic aspects.

The SAN standards are guided by 10 principles, outlined below:

  1. Social and Environmental Management System
  2. Ecosystem Conservation
  3. Wildlife Protection
  4. Water Conservation
  5. Fair Treatment and Good Working Conditions for Workers
  6. Occupational Health and Safety
  7. Community Relations
  8. Integrated Crop Management
  9. Soil Management & Conservation
  10. Integrated Waste Management

In the certification process, it is usually accredited members of the SAN - which is a coalition of non-profit organisations from partcipating countries, such as Brazil and Costa Rica -  that actually undertake the evaluations. These are then forwarded to the Rainforest Alliance for final approval. Examples of major  multi-national brands that are able to use the label includes: Galaxy, Costa Coffee and Innocent drinks.

Market coverage: 
  • The latest financial report on the Rainforest Alliance website has figures from 2012. It says that 3.78 million acres of farmland was certified to the Sustainable Agriculture Network Standard - this represents an increase of 55 per cent since 2010.  It also says that the Rainforest Alliance have certified 185.3 million acres of forests to the same standards as the Forest Stewardship Council and, in doing so, they have helped protect the welfare of over one million farm workers. 
  • In 2011, the number of certified agricultural produces grew by 205 per cent and 500 additional companies began buying certified produce. 
  • Figures from 2010 Annual Report show that consumers now spend US$12 billion a year on Rainforest Alliance certified or verified products.
Background information: 

The Rainforest Alliance was established in 1987 in New York, USA, and began certifying products in 1992. In the decades since then, the  organisation has grown substantially and now has over 35,000 members and operates in 70 countries, as well as many partners including major corporations and UN agencies. 

Funding source: 
  • Funding comes from a variety of donors, including major international organisations like GEF and UNEP, various trust funds, and from individual contributions, membership dues, certification fees, corporate donations and fundraising events.
  • Annual budget of US$43 million (2012).
Notable information: 

Rainforest Alliance Certification scheme has been scored by the Consumer Reports organisation. It rated highly on their label report card, for the 'highly meaningful' nature of the label, and for its independent verification.