Left Menu
Development News Edition

Rainforest Alliance aims to help ethical growers get climate-smart

(Updates to add Ivory Coast farms lost certification in para 16) By Michael Taylor KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Rainforest Alliance will bolster its food certification scheme to ensure growers and brands make better use of technology to tackle climate change, respect human rights and invest in sustainable farming, the green group said.

Reuters | Updated: 01-07-2020 22:00 IST | Created: 01-07-2020 22:00 IST
Rainforest Alliance aims to help ethical growers get climate-smart

(Updates to add Ivory Coast farms lost certification in para 16) By Michael Taylor

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Rainforest Alliance will bolster its food certification scheme to ensure growers and brands make better use of technology to tackle climate change, respect human rights and invest in sustainable farming, the green group said. International certification bodies the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ merged in 2018, and provide ethical labelling for coffee, tea, cocoa and bananas, to meet growing consumer demand.

"Sustainability certification has changed dramatically over the last five to 10 years - there are now much bigger challenges," said Ruth Rennie, director of standards and assurance at the Rainforest Alliance, a U.S.-based non-profit. "Climate change is pushing new challenges our way all the time. Social inequalities are rising in the world. We need to be looking at those things constantly," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

To adapt to climate change, certified farmers will assess the risks they face, put in place emergency measures to cope with floods and drought, and consider climate resilience in their choice of crops, she added. Consumers are demanding more information on where their products come from, and expect brands to show they are having a positive environmental and social impact, Rennie said.

Globally, more than 2 million farmers now use the Alliance's certification schemes, which help to ensure commodities are not linked to deforestation and can be tracked from grower to buyer. Producers must also adopt good agricultural practices and water management, and have systems to address issues like child and forced labour and workers' rights.

More than 5,000 food buyers and companies source ingredients from the schemes, including Nestle, Unilever, Hershey Co, Walmart, Dole and Chiquita. The revised standard - which will replace existing schemes and use the Alliance's green frog seal - was developed over two years in consultation with more than 1,000 people in nearly 50 countries.

It will shift away from a "pass-fail" system using auditors towards a "continuous improvement" model that identifies and tackles future risks, Rennie said. Members will have to comply with strengthened criteria on forest protection and social issues, while also looking at where climate and human rights risks occur in their supply chains and creating a plan to overcome them, she said.

Better use of technology and data is a critical part of the new scheme, with members expected to use monitoring tools to pinpoint risks like deforestation as they arise, she added. The new programme will also introduce a mandatory premium or investment to support food producers' sustainability efforts.

"We can't just expect farmers to meet all the costs to get certified, with no real return," Rennie said. The Washington Post reported last year that UTZ had found farms it certified in top cocoa producer Ivory Coast were more likely to employ child labour than those not certified, while many were in protected forests. They subsequently lost their certification.

Registration for the new standard will begin in January, with the new requirements becoming mandatory from July 2021. Darrell High, cocoa plan head for Nestle, which recently decided to source cocoa for its KitKat chocolate bars from Rainforest Alliance producers as for other snacks it makes, welcomed the new emphasis on "continuous improvement".

"We are confident this will help create more positive impact for farmers and their communities over time," he said in a statement.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

5G will be the key driving force for COVID-19 recovery: Here's how?

... ...

Canada’s COVID-19 pitfalls highlight need for integrated health information system

In the globalized world of today where outbreaks can spread far and wide within a matter of days, a global-level integrated health information system is ideal but Canadas provincial barriers show that the country lags much behind in deployi...

Pandemic must be impetus, not obstacle, for clean water access

To make matters worse, there are suspicions that the inadequacy of wastewater treatment methods in California, the rest of the USA, and indeed around the world may help to propagate the disease even more widely. ...

3D printing and the future of manufacturing post COVID-19

The on-demand, customizable, and localized manufacturing of product components facilitated by 3D printing has the potential to redefine manufacturing but there are certain technical, mechanical, and legal limitations that, unless ...

Videos

Latest News

After full stadiums, Super Rugby Aotearoa ends without fans

Super Rugby Aotearoa, which began as one of a few major sports tournaments in the world to be played in stadiums filled with fans, ended Saturday in an empty stadium where the Highlanders beat the Hurricanes 38-21 at Dunedin, New Zealand. T...

German health minister warns against "party holidays"

The German health minister said on Saturday party holidays were irresponsible as he defended a decision to declare nearly all of Spain, including the tourist island of Mallorca, a coronavirus risk region following a spike in cases there.I k...

Sidelights of I-Day celebrations at Red Fort

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday delivered his seventh consecutive address from the Red Fort on the 74th Independence Day during which he unveiled his vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat to make India a global manufacturing hub. -- Modi a...

'Fortnite' app removal threatens social lifeline for young gamers

A YouTube alert interrupted Jack Errickers schoolwork on Friday morning as he and kids all over the world woke up to the news that their favorite game, Fortnite, had been taken down from Apples Store and Google Play store.Its basically the ...

Give Feedback