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New Partnership Brings Sustainable Forest and Farm Products to Market

June 10, 2004 | OneWorld

GN3 Editorial Comment: The global demand for wood products has contributed to widespread deforestation. Sustainable forestry practices have not become widespread enough to alter this alarming trend. Part of the problem is connected with marketing, consumer education and certification. In the article below, a new effort that involves civil society, government and business is attempting to change this situation in the Americas, in what could be a model for other regions as well.

New York, New York  The Rainforest Alliance has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to establish the Certified Sustainable Products Alliance, a three-year effort to significantly promote and increase the sale of sustainably produced certified timber, banana, and coffee from Central America and Mexico.

By strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture and timber operations, this partnership will bring new investment and trade to the region while supporting practices that benefit the environment as well as protect the rights and resources of workers and local communities.

Funded with an $8.6 million grant from USAID, the Certified Sustainable Products Alliance supports certification and links certified products with markets. The goal of the partnership is to transform the way that participating companies source products, thus establishing alternative ways of doing business that the companies can replicate after the completion of this effort.

The Certified Sustainable Products Alliance, developed and funded as part of the USAID Global Development Alliance initiative, is expected to become a showcase development effort in Latin America and beyond. The Alliance will achieve results on several critical business, social, and environmental fronts, including responsible business practice, improved wages and conditions for workers employed in plantation and rural sectors, enhanced participation and income for farmer associations, and reduced environmental degradation in production systems.

As Glenn Anders, USAID's mission director for Guatemala and Central American Programs said, "By linking responsible buyers for certified products with responsible suppliers in these global markets, the Alliance constructs and seals a circuit in which all players  producers, purchasers, distributors, and consumers  are winners."

During the three-year activity period, more than 300,000 acres of forest and farmland are expected to be certified as sustainably managed. More than 4 million board feet of certified timber, 90 million boxes of certified bananas, and 30,000 metric tons of sustainable coffee are expected to be sold through valuable sourcing contracts provided to local operations.

Partners include NGOs and producers as well as international manufacturers and retailers such as IKEA, Gibson Musical Instruments, Kraft Foods, Millstone, and Chiquita Brands International. These partners have committed to increasing the amount of certified sustainable products into the supply stream and, in certain cases, to providing technical assistance to farms.

"By increasing the supply of certified products, by promoting on-the-ground conservation, and by improving conditions for workers and communities that neighbor farms and forestry operations, communities and cooperatives involved in the Certified Sustainable Products Alliance will see an increase in income that will provide them with an added incentive to practice sustainable agriculture and forestry," said Rainforest Alliance executive director Tensie Whelan.

Through its forestry and agricultural certification programs, the Rainforest Alliance brings together industry, environmentalists, scientists, local communities, workers, and governments into mutually beneficial arrangements that foster sustainable production methods that benefit both Latin America's economy and environment.

The Certified Sustainable Products Alliance project is focusing on areas of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, especially on the outskirts of parks, in priority watersheds and as part of biological corridors.



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