Joint Statement Fairtrade, SAN/Rainforest Alliance & UTZ CERTIFIED

Fairtrade, Sustainable Agriculture Network(SAN)/Rainforest Alliance and UTZ CERTIFIED share the goal of transforming the world’s production systems and value chains to make them more sustainable. Our common concern is the urgent need to transform agriculture and we share the belief that certification by credible systems such as ours helps with that transformation.

We respect each other’s missions and the unique focus each brings. We appreciate diversity in our approach, which enables producers, buyers and consumers to make a choice as to which certification best helps them meet their goals. We respect the complementary aspects of our work in moving towards sustainable agriculture and trade around the world. We believe we all have a task to fulfill and that together we work towards tackling unsustainable production and market practices, which we consider to be our main competition. We also share a commitment to high standards in our work, which is why we are all members of ISEAL, the global association for social and environmental standards which works with companies, nonprofit organizations and governments to support their use of voluntary standards.

Some argue that the existence of various sustainability initiatives and labels within the field of agricultural certification results in perceived inefficiencies such as increased costs for farmers and confusion for consumers. This has led some people to call for ‘harmonization’ between the different labels. However, the existence of different programs has also been a driver for our programs to continually innovate and in fact increase their effectiveness for our respective clients and producers.

A variety of complementary approaches gives producers and buyers alternatives and the opportunity to select the system — or combination of systems — that best suits their interests and needs. The challenges faced by millions of farmers and their communities as they strive to improve their livelihoods while conserving the natural resources and the ecosystems upon which they depend are complex, diverse and ever-changing; there is no single solution.

We accept that there is “market competition” between us, not least because we are different and as long as this is “healthy competition” we welcome it.

In order to create more efficiencies and clarity for producers Fairtrade, SAN/Rainforest Alliance and UTZ CERTIFIED are working together to reduce the level of complexity and costs for farmers. We are developing tools and materials to enable adherence to multiple standards*. We share a commitment to independent third party certification and to increasing efficiencies in auditing. We are committed to seeking further cooperation in the field to benefit farmers.

*Together with other partners we are engaged in a project to create common training materials for West African cocoa farmers. The project is called Certification Capacity Enhancement (CCE) and is managed by GTZ. A successful outcome of this project will pave the way for further collaboration in this area.

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