About Us

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

Our Members

These are the partner organizations that comprise the SAN. We hope to continue growing to share our vision at the global level.


Our History


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:

The General Assembly consists of all members of the network and it is the supreme authority of the Sustainable Agricultural Network. It has one representative for each one of the member organizations and presents motions to the Board of Directors. General Assemblies are held at least once a year.
The SAN is administered by a Board of Directors, composed of a maximum of 12 representatives of the members elected by the General Assembly. The Board of Directors approves the annual plans, goals and strategies of the organization. Board members serve three-year terms and their re-election is subject to a vote by the General Assembly. The Board of Directors meets at least twice a year.
The Secretariat executes the decisions made by the SAN Board. Its main functions are to administer the daily operations of the SAN, facilitate communication, promote cooperation with existing initiatives, coordinate support activities and oversee efficient implementation of SAN policies and processes.
The SAN’s transparency and robustness is reflected in the International Standards Committee (ISC), a group of 12 international experts from diverse countries who provide technical input for the development of the SAN standards.The ISC makes decisions on the content of the standards, additional criteria for new crops, and the geographic scope and duration of international public consultation processes on drafts of the standards. This committee ensures the availability of diverse and updated technical input for the SAN’s standard-setting efforts.

Our staff

Andre de Freitas

Executive Director

Oliver Bach

Standards & Policy Director

Thomas Divney

Learning & Support Program Senior Manager

Ana Garzón

Operations Manager

Conrado Guinea

Policy Manager

Silvia Rioja

Auditor Competence Manager

Geovanna Rojas

Finance & Administration Manager

Nancy De Lemos

Communications & Marketing Manager

Andrea Valenzuela

Operations Area Coordinator

Claudia Medrano

Quality Manager

Catalina Rivera

Administrative Assistant

Enzo Jiménez

Systems Analyst

Xinia Morales


Aaron Ampofo

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:


    1. Ask for and consume products bearing the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal; these have been produced under our sustainability standards. You can see a list of our products and where to find them by country using the Shop the Frog link Shop the frog


  1. Join us on Twitter and Facebook, where you will always find important information about the world of Sustainable Agriculture.


If you represent an NGO that works in the areas of agriculture or the environment and believe that you can enrich our work and we can enrich yours, become a member!

Our value proposal for our members is straightforward and transparent: it is the belief that this membership will help you better accomplish your mission by giving you a larger venue and broader geographic scope for exchanging ideas and experiences. In terms of governance, partners have final decision-making authority related to the SAN standards for agriculture and they elect the members of the Board of Directors.

SAN members are often involved in one or more of the following activities: technical assistance to farmers, international verification or certification services related to SAN standards, promotion activities for sustainable agriculture and the development of markets for sustainably produced products.
SAN partners must be non-profit organizations whose mission and goals are consistent with ours. If your organization would like to become a partner, it should fulfill the following requirements:

  • Be legally established for more than five years, working in the fields of the environment or agriculture.
  • Submit a written or electronic request to the Sustainable Agriculture Network explaining your reasons for supporting the SAN and committing to:
    1. Work with the other members of the Network and with the standards and policies of the organization.
    2. Serve as an ambassador for SAN in your country.
    3. Support SAN in its consultation processes for standards and policies.
    4. Collaborate with and support the institutional development of SAN members.

If you fulfill these requirements and would like to work with us, your membership request should include information that SAN’s Board of Directors periodically requires, including your statutes, annual reports and non-confidential financial information as well as a list of your partners or associates.

If you would like to become a new member of SAN, please contact us at this address: membership@san.ag

Our Members

Transforming Agriculture
for the greater good of all

2017 Sustainable Agriculture Network

Members of:

Phone / Fax (+506) 2272-9312