Who are we?
The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is an association of NGOs that started its activities in 1997, and was legally established with headquarters in Mexico in January 2010. The SAN is a group of international non-profit organizations working for the conservation of biodiversity and rural development. Our vision of the world is one where agricultural activity contributes to biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods.
We are a coalition of leading conservation groups in America, Africa, Asia and Europe that supports the adoption of best agricultural practices. We also connect farmers with responsible consumers through the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal.
The SAN promotes productive and efficient agricultural systems, biodiversity conservation and sustainable human development through the application of our Sustainable Agriculture Standards, which include social, environmental and productive aspects.
Our concept of sustainability recognizes that the welfare of societies and ecosystems is intertwined and dependent on environmentally sustainability, and also socially just and economically viable development.
Our mission is to be a global network transforming agriculture into a sustainable activity.
Governance and Transparency
Efficient governance is one of the greatest values of the RAS. We are a nonprofit, open and transparent organization that involve multiple actors to ensure greater impact of our activities.
The SAN works through a participatory, multi-stakeholder decision making process. This structure enables credible consensus building and encourages democratic, inclusive and transparent discussions.
You can read more details on the objectives and the governance bodies of the SAN in its statutes.
Members of the Board of Directors and General Assembly
- President: Romeo Domínguez
- Vice-president: Elsa Matilde Escobar
- Treasurer: Mauricio Voivodic
- Joshua Tosteson
- Luis Gaitán
- Alcides Andrade
- Álvaro Moisés
- Lucy Bjorck
- Melanie Bayo
- Executive Director: Andre de Freitas
International Standards Committee (ISC)
The ISC is the committee of international experts for the creation of environmental, social and agricultural standards for agricultural and cattle certification. It develops or reviews SAN’s standards and means of verification together with the Secretariat. Its integration is under review.
Technical Operations Committee (TOC)
The TOC defines the technical content of farm, group and chain of custody certification policies, and accreditation requirements for certification bodies and auditors. It advises on communication systems, tools and necessary guidelines for the effective implementation of these and of SAN standards. The TOC is made up of two working groups each with four members.
|Policy Group||Chain of Custody Group|
|Global: Jon Jickling||Producer country Auditor: Benedictus|
|Africa: Joseph Osei||Consumer country Auditor: Christian Rahbek|
|Latin America: Tharic Galuchi||SAN expert: Claudia Cortes|
|Asia: Mallika Matthew||Rainforest Alliance expert: Rebecca Sanborn|
These are the partner organizations that comprise the SAN. We hope to continue growing to share our vision at the global level.
The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) was created in 1997 as a response to concerns raised by researchers and ecologists in the 1970s and 1980s, when the relationship between the predominant development model and the destruction of the world’s tropical forests became evident.
Beginning in 1984, a number of organizations such as Fundación Natura in Colombia, Rainforest Alliance, Interamerican Foundation of Tropical Research (Fundación Interamericana de Investigación Tropical – FIIT) in Guatemala, and Pronatura Sur in Mexico started work on creating the sustainable agricultural standards for banana and coffee crops.
SalvaNATURA in El Salvador, the Instituto para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo (ICADE) in Honduras, Conservación y Desarrollo (CyD) in Ecuador and the Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Management and Certification (Instituto para el Manejo y Certificación Forestal y Agrícola – IMAFLORA) in Brazil joined this effort and began to develop standards for the production of cacao and sugar.
With so many parallel efforts in different countries, in 1997 the directors of CyD, FIIT, Fundación Ambio, Fundación Natura Colombia, ICADE, IMAFLORA, Pronatura Sur, Rainforest Alliance and SalvaNATURA agreed to organize a formal network for coordinated work.
The decision of the SAN members to work together was based on the conviction that farm certification could be an effective tool for environmental protection and improving the lives of rural people.
Since then, SAN members have collaborated on the design, improvement and implementation of a standard that can be applied to an unlimited number and variety of crops and farms. The SAN story is one of cooperation between groups with common goals and the creation of links between the Northern and Southern hemispheres to protect nature and benefit agricultural communities in the tropics.
Building a sustainable market
In 1991, a certification seal called ECO-OK was used to distinguish banana plantations that complied with a series of sustainability standards, but in 2001 the SAN agreed to replace this seal with the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal and to begin international promotion of the certification system.
In 2003, several large and medium-size companies started selling certified coffee in North America, Europe and Asia. Kraft Foods – one of the world’s top coffee roasters – launched various Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee products in North America and Europe in 2005. That same year, Chiquita began selling certified bananas in supermarkets throughout Europe, and certified chocolates and orange juice also appeared on store shelves.
In 2006, the first farms were certified in Africa and Asia, global retail sales of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, bananas and chocolate exceeded US$1 billion, and there were more than 10,000 certified farms in 15 countries.
In 2009, SAN presented its Sustainable Cattle Production Standards and since then, certification has grown steadily and expanded to cover new crops such as flowers, pineapple and tea.
In order to meet the growing demand and challenges of increasingly regulated markets, SAN members decided to restructure the organization and turn farm auditing over to independent organizations, in order to concentrate on improving the sustainable agricultural standards and helping farmers adopt them.
SAN is currently working with certification bodies all over the world and the high demand for certified products enables us to envision a future of continuing growth.
How are we organized?
The Sustainable Agriculture Network works using a participatory, decision-making process with the stakeholders. This structure enables credible consensus-building and encourages democratic, inclusive and transparent discussions. Internally our organization encourages the participation of diverse members ranging from small agricultural producers to agroindustry and civil society organizations.
Our governing bodies are:
Andre de Freitas
Standards & Policy Director
Learning & Support Program Senior Manager
Auditor Competence Manager
Finance & Administration Manager
Nancy De Lemos
Communications & Marketing Manager
Operations Area Coordinator
Consultant in Africa
Join our Efforts
If you share our vision and desire to transform agriculture into an activity that balances the coexistence of human beings and nature, there are several ways you can support our work: