For nearly two decades, our Rainforest Alliance partnership has helped preserve the integrity of North American forests and promote biodiversity conservation through responsible paper production and fiber sourcing. Our shared initiatives include some of the earliest forest certification projects as well as ongoing landowner education efforts.
The Rainforest Alliance’s CEO, Han de Groot, recently spoke about changes at the organization since their merger with UTZ this past January and the enduring relationship and shared goals with Domtar.
Q: Our Rainforest Alliance partnership has endured since 2000, thanks to our shared ideas on sustainable forestry. What makes this partnership unique?
A: Domtar has built sustainability into its culture and values as an organization. It is evident to the Rainforest Alliance team in working with the staff and senior leadership at Domtar that sustainability is part of decision making at every level. This company culture makes a partnership between Rainforest Alliance and Domtar a natural fit since our objectives and values in driving sustainability are aligned.
Q: The Rainforest Alliance has undergone a significant transformation this year. What’s changed?
A: The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ – a leading agricultural certification organization based in the Netherlands – officially merged on January 8 under the name the Rainforest Alliance. Though the Rainforest Alliance name remains, the merger has very much been a marriage of equals, and we’ve been hard at work integrating the two organizations and developing our strategy as one.
The Rainforest Alliance and UTZ merged in response to the critical challenges facing humanity: deforestation, climate change, systemic poverty, and social inequity – issues each organization already addressed — and as a result, not a lot has changed in our daily work. We are combining our respective strengths because we know that together, we will be in a better position to achieve the scale of impact necessary to meet these challenges effectively.
Both organizations have a long history of meaningful impact on sustainable agriculture and driving certification, as well as success at bringing sustainable value chains to scale. Each organization contributes strengths in varied sectors and geographies. The Rainforest Alliance also brings significant experience in forestry, and effective landscape conservation expertise that drives responsible supply chains. Together we have greater reach and a stronger voice, enabling us to create even more impact. Both organizations have a long history of meaningful impact on sustainable agriculture and driving certification, as well as success at bringing sustainable value chains to scale. Each organization contributes strengths in varied sectors and geographies. The Rainforest Alliance also brings significant experience in forestry, and effective landscape conservation expertise that drives responsible supply chains. Together we have greater reach and a stronger voice, enabling us to create even more impact.
Q: How will the merger with UTZ affect your work on responsible sourcing?
A: Responsible sourcing continues to be central to the Rainforest Alliance’s proven strategy to conserve natural resources and improve livelihoods. Our merger with UTZ provides the opportunity to review and strengthen our programs that support responsible sourcing, and continue our work in a focused and strategic way with our mission at heart.
Q: What are the most pressing challenges and most exciting opportunities on the horizon, particularly for Domtar’s Rainforest Alliance partnership?
A: It is an exciting time in responsible sourcing and land management across many sectors, including the pulp and paper industry, which is where the Rainforest Alliance and Domtar collaborate. Many trends are driving opportunities, including companies and brands recognizing the business value of sustainability, increased visibility into supply chains, new technologies and a strong demand for innovative solutions to overcome the challenges and risks associated with modern supply chains.
Domtar and RA are already partnering on new opportunities and developments addressing some of the challenges facing traditional certification. One example is the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance project to support smallholder certification in the southeast region of the US. We will continue this type of creative work with Domtar and appreciate their willingness to be creative and innovative.
Q: Many people recognize the Rainforest Alliance through the Follow the Frog campaign. What benefits have you seen from the campaign and will it continue?
A: The annual Follow the Frog campaign will continue, and this year is scheduled for September. This campaign engages with our partner companies and their stakeholders, including employees and customers, as well as direct engagement with citizens. The objective is to raise awareness of the Rainforest Alliance “green frog” seal and provide companies a platform to celebrate their achievements in responsible sourcing and highlight their commitment to the Rainforest Alliance’s mission. A win for all!