Rainforest Alliance to merge with UTZ
Two of the world's leading sustainability certifiers are set to join forces at the end of this year, in a move that promises to cut redundancies and simplify auditing for hundreds of thousands of farmers worldwide.
The merged entity between the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ will keep the name 'Rainforest Alliance', and continue to tackle environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty, and unsustainable farming.
By combining forces, the two NGOs will provide a leading platform to help increase demand for responsibly sourced products, while working to expand advocacy efforts through new partnerships to ensure the conservation of entire landscapes in priority regions.
The two programs will work in parallel until a new standard is published in 2019, so in the meantime growers are encouraged to choose whichever of the two they wish for their certifications.
"Please rest assured that you will have plenty of time to make any transition in the future. We will get back to you in the fall with more information about the timeline for the coming period," the parties said in a Q&A about the merger.
Han de Groot, current executive director of UTZ, will be CEO while Nigel Sizer, current president of the Rainforest Alliance, will take on the role of chief program officer for advocacy, landscapes and livelihoods.
"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," de Groot said in a release.
"The future Rainforest Alliance will have a bigger reach and stronger voice, allowing it to better protect the natural environment and allow farmers, businesses and consumers to make even more responsible choices, more easily.
"We have a history of continuous growth and strong partnerships – this new venture will give us more influence to bring us closer to our mission: a world where sustainable farming will be the norm."
Sizer emphasized the two groups' missions were very similar, working 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 partnered 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," he said.
"Now, more than ever, stronger collaborations are needed to ensure we are doing the best we can to create a more sustainable planet," added Rainforest Alliance founder Daniel Katz.
"This new alliance moves us forward in that regard as it combines first-rate global conservation efforts with the gold standards of independent third-party certification. We believe that collectively the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and the Sustainable Agriculture Network, working closer together, will benefit more farmers and more ecosystems worldwide."