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Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Merge to Create Single Agriculture Sustainability Standard

Two of the world’s leaders in sustainable agriculture and certification, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ have announced plans to merge later this year in an effort to simplify the certification process for sustainable agriculture.

Under the name Rainforest Alliance, the organization will continue to address environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming. It will create a single global certification standard by 2019 that will streamline 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 and 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 new certification standard will be known as the Rainforest Alliance Standard and will utilize the respective strengths of the current Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and UTZ standards while creating a single auditing process for certificate holders. The two organizations expect the move to aid 182,000 cocoa, coffee and tea farmers currently certified under both standards, as well as new farmers, invest more efficiently in sustainability, avoiding a double administrative load of working with two standards and certification systems.

“Many farms at the moment are either double certified or even triple certified to other standards, and this doesn’t do a good service to them or bring many additional benefits,” said Han de Groot, Executive Director of UTZ. “The new standard will give them better guidance and one system to comply with; it saves them a lot of costs and efforts.”

By adopting the name Rainforest Alliance, the two NGOs hope to retain well-established engagement with consumers. The new organization will serve as an advocate for change, continuing to protect the natural environment and striving to make sustainable agriculture and forest management the norm by collaborating with communities, businesses and governments — a goal which is already at the core of UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance.

Following the merger, Han de Groot will become the CEO of the Rainforest Alliance. Nigel Sizer, President of the Rainforest Alliance, will take on the role of Chief Program Officer of 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.