Nigel Sizer of Rainforest Alliance tells Ethical Corporation editor Terry Slavin how the upcoming union with the Dutch certifier will boost the new organisation’s ability to protect biodiversity and farmers’ livelihoods
The furore over Fairtrade this summer overshadowed news of another development that could prove a big boost for third-party sustainability certification: the merger of US-based Rainforest Alliance and UTZ of the Netherlands later this year.
The merged organisation will keep the more widely recognised Rainforest Alliance name and green frog seal for a new unified certification standard, which will be published early in 2019 after a robust multi-stakeholder consultation, with the two standards operating in parallel until then.
Nigel Sizer, current president of the Rainforest Alliance, will step aside to allow UTZ’s executive director, Han de Groot, to become the new organisation’s CEO, returning to frontline work as chief programme officer for advocacy, landscapes and livelihoods.
In an interview with Ethical Corporation, Sizer said that combining forces would give the new NGO significant economies of scale by removing dual certification for the 200,000 farmers who belong to both schemes, allowing it to invest in cutting-edge technology to support the overall system. It would also help curb costs, which he acknowledged was one of the reasons companies like Mondelez were beginning to abandon third-party certification in favour of developing in-house schemes. (See Has Fairtrade passed its sell-by date?)
"By drawing our two...