Tag Archives: Certification

The Rainforest Alliance assumes full ownership of certification system

The Rainforest Alliance assumes full ownership of certification system

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.”

SAN completes training on 2017 the SAN Standard for the technical community

SAN completes training on 2017 the SAN Standard for the technical community

The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) completed the training of its technical community for the entry into force of the new SAN certification standard on July 1st.

During the last months, and as part of the global Training Strategy for the 2017 SAN Standard, seven regional events were held, each one coordinated by SAN through the SAN Members and Certification Bodies working in the regions.

In-person training activities were addressed to auditors, technical advisers and team members of the Certification bodies and SAN Members, so they can now replicate the training with certified farmers in their own countries.

Representatives from 24 countries attended the seven workshops, covering all regions within the scope of SAN Certification: Africa, Asia and Latin America; for a total coverage of 47 countries through the action of the SAN Members and authorized certification bodies.

In total, 134 technicians working in 28 countries were actively involved in these in-person activities. They are now in charge of replicating these trainings events within their teams and organizations.

All key topics related to the new standard were analyzed. Each region also selected specific topics that represented main challenges for them and needed special attention. Key crops received special focus in the field trips: coffee, cocoa, citrus fruit, flowers and banana.

All the organizations working in the same region shared solutions and agreed on how to work together with the implementation and auditing of the new standard.

Some of the topics included in the training sessions were:

  • Management system for smallholders and groups
  • Pesticide management and IPM for smallholders
  • Minimum wage and labor rights
  • Child labor and forced labor
  • Group administration and management
  • Natural ecosystems and shade cover
  • Wildlife and human conflict
  • High Conservation Value and natural ecosystems
  • Freedom of association

Based on the results of these events, SAN is working on new on-line activities and resources to support the technical community in the first steps of the implementation of 2017 SAN Standard. You can read the full report of the training workshops here.

New case study examines SAN cattle certification in Brazil

New case study examines SAN cattle certification in Brazil

A new case study exploring the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) cattle certification program development in Brazil has been published on Innovation For Succesful Societies (ISS).

ISS chronicles innovation, especially in low- and middle-income countries for the  Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs on Princeton University.


The case study, by Blair Cameron, reports from the early success of the program—getting certified beef onto the shelves of a major supermarket chain—to late 2016, when only a handful of ranchers, whose combined holdings represented a tiny fraction of 1% of Brazil’s pastureland, had received certification.

Cameron drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in São Paulo, in August and September 2016.

The case study covers the setting of the first cattle standard in 2010, the traceability challenges and the pioneer ranchers.

According to the study final reflections, the SAN program has succeeded in developing niche markets for certified beef, and proponents expressed hopes for more gains as consumers became more interested in the sustainability of food production.

You can read the case study in full in our library.

Sustainable agriculture reaches the caatinga

Sustainable agriculture reaches the caatinga

For the first time a Brazilian venture farming of melon and watermelon achieves the social and environmental certification SAN/ Rainforest Alliance. From that harvest, Itaueira with sown in three northeastern states areas, can market their products with the seal that certifies the use of best practices in the field.

Altogether there are 3,800 hectares in the states of Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Ceara with the caatinga biome (dry forests in northern Brazil). This is the only typical Brazilian biome, with a unique biodiversity and also very threatened.


“The venture needs to show auditors what is being done to protect water sources, soil health, ecosystems sheltering, among other obligations. It is always a part of the certification process to take one step further. Therefore, the arrival of the certification to the caatinga has a value itself, “says Edson Teramoto, IMAFLORA‘s agronomist who participated in the audits in the company.

At the end of the cycle in all three areas from planting to harvest, the enterprise needed 1,600 workers, mostly harvesters. A significant number, taking into consideration the few opportunities the population has for income.

“Commitments with good social and environmental practices provides specific improvements, and when they win scale lead to very significant results for all parties”, recalls Edson.

To Itaueira, the certification confirms to the company management that these type of procedures  are indeed the best suited for the preservation of the environment and to assure the respect for the rights of workers. Furthermore, the good management practices are going beyond what the law requires in relation to the conservation of fauna, flora, soil, water, air, selective harvesting and recycling.

According to Itaueira’s Marketing Manager, Adriana Prado, certification will help the company achieve markets that already have environmental concerns and conscious consumers who know and respect the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal.

According to Ms. Prado, “the use of  the seal in all melon and watermelon packages,  will help spread the symbol of the certification and what it represents outside Brazil, as well as in the Brazilian market, where it is still little known”.

ISEAL members making a real mark on new joint campaign

ISEAL members making a real mark on new joint campaign

ISEAL members are embarking on a messaging campaign together to share how they are ‘making a real mark’ in the world through their proven approach that is reaching scale.

Each ISEAL member has a mission to expand good business practices in specific sectors or regions. Each of us works to build demand for sustainable products, measure and improve impacts, and catalyse partnerships for full-scale sector or regional transformation.

But, how are we actually making a real mark?

We’re all about impact

  • More than 100 credible and/or independent reports capture here and here, demonstrate the change that the sustainability standards approach brings about.

We are open and democratic

  • We comply with the ISEAL Standard-Setting Code. This means that we have to address the most important sustainability challenges, balance global consistency and local applicability, and harmonise with other standards systems.

Our reach is growing

  • Sustainability standards are successfully used in all sectors across more than 150 countries.
  • ISEAL members have invested decades of work to create and scale up our approach – today, millions of people benefit, tens of thousands of companies are committed across the globe and the majority of those seek to increase their commitments.

Want to know more? Go here for reports, case studies and infographics.

2017 SAN Standard: Raising the Bar on Sustainability Standards

2017 SAN Standard: Raising the Bar on Sustainability Standards

The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and the Rainforest Alliance announced today a newly revised certification standard, which encompasses existing best practices and recent innovations in sustainable agriculture.  Built around the guiding principles of effective farm planning and management, protection of biodiversity and natural resources, and improved livelihoods, the 2017 SAN Standard is designed to enable more producers to embark and then continually progress on their journey toward sustainable farming.

The 2017 SAN Standard aims to support farmers in advancing sustainable livelihoods, improving farm productivity, and becoming more resilient to climate change. Changes of note include the following:

  • Climate-smart agricultural practices are built into the standard to help farmers address climate change risks. By emphasizing soil conservation, water-use efficiency and the conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems, farmers can reduce negative effects of extreme or erratic weather, especially irregular rainfall, changing temperatures, and related increased pest and disease attacks. These same practices also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.


  • A key goal of the 2017 SAN Standard is to reduce forest conversion for agriculture, the leading cause of deforestation, especially in the tropics. Forest protection is mandatory for Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM The standard prohibits conversion of natural ecosystems after 2014, protecting both primary and secondary forests, as well as ecosystems such as wetlands and natural grasslands. Further, no destruction of ecosystems designated as “High Conservation Value” may have taken place after November 2005.
  • One important innovation in the 2017 SAN Standard is its “Continuous Improvement Framework.” This framework defines three performance levels and requires time-bound investments and improvements related to water quality, waste management, soil conservation, working conditions, living wages, and other key elements of sustainability.
  • Stricter requirements related to human rights issues cover worker housing, sanitation, and safety, as well as rigorous gender and child labor protections. The 2017 SAN Standard also includes mandatory requirements for farms to have effective ways for employees to make complaints and file grievances.


  • The 2017 SAN Standard includes a substantially more rigorous framework for integrated pest management and the safe use of pesticides. The SAN lists for pesticide management prohibits the use of 150 substances in alignment with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food & Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) parameters. The document also includes 170 additional substances which are permitted only under rigorous controls that help reduce negative impacts on human health, aquatic life, and wildlife, including pollinators. These 170 substances can be applied only under strict safety measures, such as restricting aerial fumigation in order to avoid contamination of natural ecosystems and to protect workers and bystanders, according to several conditions within the standard.


The Rainforest Alliance helped convene the Sustainable Agriculture Network in 1998.  During its joint   history the SAN and the Rainforest Alliance have certified more than one million small, medium, and large farms and farming cooperatives. Today about 3.5 million hectares (8.6 million acres) of farmland, growing 100 crops across 42 countries, are certified.

“I have always believed that if we want to protect the world’s forests, we must strengthen our commitment to work with the world’s farmers,” said Nigel Sizer, the Rainforest Alliance’s recently appointed president. “The 2017 SAN Standard honors that commitment. This standard aims to further our work in climate-smart agriculture and advances our mission to keep forests standing and communities thriving.”

The 2017 SAN Standard results from an extensive revision process involving multiple stakeholders such as farmers, NGOs, companies, scientific and technical experts; a series of open public consultations; and field-testing in key regions. The new standard was developed according to the Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards of the ISEAL Alliance, the global association for sustainability standards whose mission is to strengthen sustainability standards for the benefit of people and the environment.

Andre de Freitas, executive director of SAN said, “One of the most exciting aspects of the 2017 SAN Standard is that it combines a very high level and ambitious standard covering human rights, environmental, and production issues with a scaled implementation approach designed to make it more accessible to the many farmers in the world who are still in the early steps in their journey towards sustainability.”

The 2017 SAN Standard is now available at www.sanstandard2017.ag  and will come into force from July 1st 2017 onwards.

New living wage benchmark for coffee producers in Brazil has been published

New living wage benchmark for coffee producers in Brazil has been published

Workers on coffee farms in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil should be paid a living wage of $477 US dollars per month, according to new research. The current prevailing wage is $383 US dollars per month.


These are the findings of the latest living wage benchmark study to be published by the Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC), a group which brings together the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) with other sustainability standards to promote the payment of a living wage for workers.

SAN is a member of the GLWC alongside Fairtrade InternationalForest Stewardship Council (FSC)Goodweave, UTZ , Social Accountability International (SAI) and the ISEAL Alliance.

By publishing living wage benchmarks, the coalition aims to promote the payment of a living wage for more workers, who are often vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

The GLWC uses a unique methodology to calculate living wage benchmarks based on the local costs of necessities such as food, water, housing, education, and healthcare, as well as provision for unexpected events.

Living wage benchmarks have also been published for Malawi,Dominican Republic, South Africa and Kenya. Ten more benchmarks are to be published in the course of 2016.

The GLWC will also plan a series of webinars to have each living wage estimate explained by the lead researcher for the report. It will also be an opportunity to discuss some of the work that will follow as led by the standards members of the GLWC.

Follow the links below for more information:

— More information on the Global Living Wage Coalition

— Read thefull benchmark study in our library

— Sign up for regular updates from the Global Living Wage Coalition

Look up tool for certified farms is now available on SAN webpage

Look up tool for certified farms is now available on SAN webpage

In accordance with the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) values of transparency and use of technology, a new farm look-up function is now available on SAN webpage. The tool allows the public to search for certified farms and groups.

The Assurance & Support team designed the tool aiming to add more transparency to the certification system and resolve inquiries about farm and chain of custody operation certificates and their status. Everybody can now search certified operations by name, certificación code, certification body, certification type, year or country.


For now, not all certificates are accompanied by their corresponding public audit report, but they will be available soon.

You can start your search here.