Q: How is the transfer of the Rainforest Alliance/Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) certification system related to the intended merger between the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ?
In June 2017, the Rainforest Alliance announced an intention to merge with Dutch-based certification organization UTZ later this year under the Rainforest Alliance name and brand. The new organization aims to create a single agriculture sustainability standard that will simplify the certification process and in doing so, continue to improve livelihoods for farmers around the world. As part of that process, SAN began to discuss internally if the organization should remain focused on certification or if there were more effective options for it to deliver on its mission. This led to the decision that SAN will refocus its work in other areas, making better use of its network of local partners around the world.
Q: What will the SAN do after the Rainforest Alliance assumes ownership of the SAN/RA certification system?
The SAN is changing its scope and work, but will continue to work in the sustainable agriculture sector to address the many challenges farmers face in the field. For more information please go to: www.sustainableagriculture.eco
Q: What is the timeline for the transition?
On 1 October 2017, Chain of Custody ownership becomes the responsibility of the Rainforest Alliance. In the ensuing weeks, the SAN will train select Rainforest Alliance staff on issues around policy operations and by 15 November 2017, the transfer of operations will be complete. On 31 December 2017 SAN’s responsibilities end and as of 1 January 2018, the Rainforest Alliance becomes the sole owner and operator of the certification scheme.
Q: What are the implications on the day-to-day operations? What does this transition mean for producers? What does it mean for companies?
The Rainforest Alliance and the SAN will manage the transfer through a detailed transition plan that will provide continuity to the RA/SAN system. Both organizations are working diligently to ensure the system operates without interruption. Our goal is to make the transfer as seamless as possible with no impact on certificate holders, collaborating companies or stakeholders.
Q: Will the same certification bodies be approved to manage audits?
Yes, there will be continuity for the ten certification bodies of the program. The Rainforest Alliance will assume oversight of the certification bodies’ work for the system.
Q: What happens to the Rainforest Alliance certification division, RA-Cert?
During this transition and in the future, RA-Cert will continue to function as a certification body. The Rainforest Alliance is committed to protecting the credibility and transparency of the scheme and has initiated steps to further enhance RA-CERT’s independence, ensuring integrity of the certification scheme.