Rainforest Alliance impacts report: Partnership, Learning, and Change (2018)

Costa Rica landscape © Rainforest Alliance

The 2018 edition of Rainforest Alliance impacts report shares a comprehensive assessment of the Rainforest Alliance certification program, highlighting Rainforest Alliance collaborative approach to tackling the most critical social and environmental challenges in agriculture.

This report continues the work of the first comprehensive impacts report on the Rainforest Alliance certification program, which covered the time period from 2010 to 2014, evaluating the results till  the close of 2017. This report begins by presenting a snapshot of the distribution and characteristics of Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and identifies trends over time. It then focuses on three topics of special interest: improving the livelihoods of farmers and farm workers; conserving natural ecosystems; and minimizing pesticide use and risk. It also highlights the key partnerships through which the Rainforest Alliance works to address these topics.

The findings are based on four types of evidence: “1. Basic statistics on the program’s geographic, sectoral, and market reach and characteristics 2. Rates of compliance with criteria in the certification standard 3. Results of scientific studies conducted by independent third parties 4. Interviews with scientists and farm workers”.


Key Findings: 

  • “The reach of the Rainforest Alliance sustainable agriculture certification program has continued to grow, with the number of Rainforest Alliance Certified farms reaching 1.3 million by the close of 2017”.
  • “At the close of 2017, there were 2,135 active Rainforest Alliance agriculture certificates in 57 countries. The countries with the most certificates were Colombia (254), followed by Ecuador (244) and Guatemala (182)”.
  • “Nearly 750,000 hectares of farmland produce Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa, roughly one-third of all Rainforest Alliance Certified crop production area. Tea and coffee are the next most dominant crops by production area, followed by banana and oil palm”.
  • “Audit data indicate that, with a few exceptions, certified farms and farmer groups achieve consistently high rates of compliance with the criteria that address worker wages and rights, housing and education, health and safety, and farm productivity”.
  • “Certificates for all crops in all regions had average compliance scores of 80 or above for six of the 10 criteria we examined related to the conservation of natural ecosystems”.
  • “Certificates for all crops in all regions had average compliance scores of 80 or above for seven of the criteria we examined related to minimizing pesticide use and risk”.
  • “For some crops and regions, a significant proportion of farms encountered difficulties with adopting good practices such as integrated pest management”.


Key conclusions and recommendations:

  • “The certified farm area and crop production volume continues to increase in some sectors while remaining flat in others”.
  •  “Group certification is widespread within the Rainforest Alliance program”.
  •  “Independent studies published within the past two years confirm previous findings that Rainforest Alliance certification is associated with higher household incomes and lower rates of poverty among farming households”.
  • “The Rainforest Alliance certification program is supporting continuous improvement among farms and farmer groups that remain certified for multiple years”.
  • “Poverty is still found on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, though at significantly lower rates than on non-certified farms”.
  • “The new 2017 Rainforest Alliance Standard brings a more rigorous, science-based, and farmer-centric approach to addressing key topics, including ecosystem conservation and restoration, living wage and living income, pesticides, and worker wellbeing”.
  • “New and existing partnerships support efforts to address complex sustainability issues by working collaboratively with industry, government, producer associations, and other certification programs”.


To read the original, full report, and executive summary click below

Posted on 09/07/2018

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Executive_Summary_RA_Impacts.pdf(4.62 MB) Download
Full_Report_RA_Impacts.pdf(12.41 MB) Download