Commercial Product Sustainability Certification Program

This solution addresses making ethical and sustainable purchasing easy in the world for product consumers and producers

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Problem Description

Consumers today face unparalleled choice in the products they consume. Globalization has made it so that a given products can come from anywhere, and can be produced through any means. Coffee beans for instance, could be harvested unethically, in fragile ecosystems, by underpaid labor. Or the opposite could just as well be true. The difficulty for consumers who value ethically and sustainably produced products is that identifying these characteristics in a retail setting is not easy. The are forced to rely on the marketing and good will the producer. The Rainforest Alliance's Certification program allows for an independent party to step into this process and determine the ethical / sustainable qualities of a given product, clearly labeling it as such for consumers.

Building Blocks


Since its inception the Rainforest Alliance's certification program has branched out into several strategic areas. These include forests, agriculture, carbon offsets, and tourism. The most visible of these programs has been the agriculture certification program, which places the Rainforest Alliance Certification Seal on appropriate products found in common market places. In 2015, more than 4,300 companies buy or sell products from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, and the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal can be seen in more than 120 countries. As of June 2015, 14.5 percent of the world’s cocoa, 5.2 percent of coffee and 14 percent of tea comes from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Sustainable Development Goals

On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. This solution covers the following goals:

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Social Progress Index

  • Access to Information and Communications - Can people freely access ideas and information from anywhere in the world?
  • Ecosystem Sustainability - Is this society using its resources so they will be available to future generations?
  • Photos

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    • Marketing


    • Rainforest Alliance Impact Map

      A interactive map displaying locations of Rainforest Alliance certified entities

    • SAN (Sustainable Agriculture Network) Sustainable Agriculture Standard Overview

      A document describing the methodology behind SAN's Sustainable Agriculture Standard. This is the methodology that the Rainforest Alliance draws upon to determine the sustainability of agricultural products for their certification program. "The objective of the standard is to encourage farms to analyze and consequently mitigate environmental and social risks caused by agriculture activities through a process that motivates continual improvement. The standard is based on the themes of environmental soundness, social equity and economic viability. "

    • Find Certified Products

    Contributed By

    • Richard Donovan, Rainforest Alliance
    • Mark Comolli, Rainforest Alliance

    Solution Stage

    One of the 7 stages of an innovation. Learn more
    Growing scaling and spreading6
    Strong leadership, management, implementation skills
    • Business or organisational growth
    • Franchising
    • Licensing
    • Legislation
    • Spreading ideas
    • Transferring practice
    • Fidelity assessments may be important
    • Strong capacity needed to ensure transfer of practice
    • Equity, loans, payment by results, social impact bonds
    Evidence derived from evaluations in multiple sites, and independently run randomised control trials
    Innovation or impact at scale

    Key Details

    Social Progress Index
    Access to Information and CommunicationsEcosystem Sustainability
    Sustainable Development Goals
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