On August 31, 2017, the Rainforest Alliance (RA) and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) signed an agreement for the transfer of ownership of the shared RA/SAN certification system entirely to the Rainforest Alliance, a process that will commence on 1 October 2017.
The agreement includes a license to the Rainforest Alliance for the use of the 2017 SAN Standard, transfer of the management of assurance operations through certification bodies, Chain of Custody scheme and all certification and standard-related operations exclusively to the Rainforest Alliance.
In the interim, the Rainforest Alliance and SAN will manage the transfer through a mutually agreed-upon transition plan that will provide continuity to the certification program. The timeline for this transition is:
- Chain of Custody ownership and system transferred to the Rainforest Alliance (October 1, 2017);
- The Rainforest Alliance assumes control of assurance operations and procedures, and investigations into alleged non-conformances (October 12, 2017);
- The Rainforest Alliance assumes operational control of the certification scheme, of the standards and policies including pending SAN modifications to the standard, related technologies and tools, related documents and external communications (November 15, 2017);
- From November 16 through December 31, 2017, the SAN will support and advise the Rainforest Alliance in the management of the scheme;
- SAN’s responsibilities to the scheme ends December 31, 2017;
- The Rainforest Alliance will become the sole owner and operator of the certification scheme on January 1, 2018.
The Rainforest Alliance and the SAN are working diligently to ensure that the certification system operates without interruption during and after the transition. Further, the Rainforest Alliance is committed to protecting the credibility and transparency of the certification scheme and as such is taking additional steps to ensure the independence and impartiality of its internal certification arm, RA-Cert.
The Rainforest Alliance and the SAN remain fully committed to the advancement of sustainability. SAN’s work will now be focused on the creation of customized sustainable solutions for agricultural value chains beyond certification, including assurance and verification tools, technical assistance and coaching, and the development of innovation projects at regional and international levels.
“Certification has been and continues to be a valuable tool to support improvements in agriculture. After working with certification for over 20 years, we see that there is a strong body of evidence about the positive social and environmental impacts of this tool”, stated Andre de Freitas, Executive Director of the SAN. “However, we have concluded that, as a network of leading social and environmental organizations, SAN can be much more effective by pivoting its work to capacity development and more focused interventions for the many farmers in the world not reachable by certification. We thank Rainforest Alliance for the strong partnership over this period and wish them all the best in the running of the certification scheme.”
Nigel Sizer, president of the Rainforest Alliance adds, “Over the past twenty years the Rainforest Alliance and SAN have made long strides in helping transform agriculture practices in the tropics. We have absolutely moved the needle in addressing some of the greatest challenges facing society in terms of mitigating the effects of climate change and curbing deforestation. This has been a long and successful partnership and we are mindful of the important work SAN has done in guiding millions of farmers down the path of sustainability.”