A longer version of this article, written by the Rainforest Alliance’s Patricia Convey Saville, originally appeared in Business Quarter.
‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.’ This is #13 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a strategic global plan for tackling humanity’s greatest challenges. Achieving many of these targets relies on the business sector proactively investing in measures to tackle the most pressing economic, social, and environmental issues. Such external investments can offer a high return for businesses while supporting the SDG mission. As just one example, rather than waiting until supply chains have been severely impacted by erratic weather patterns, now is the best time to start developing a business plan that will be resilient to climate change. Companies can attain significant value from sustainable sourcing through the potential of reducing risks and improving brand value, reputation, product quality, and reliability of supplies while contributing to the mitigation of climate change. Sourcing certified materials, which support environmental, social and economic imperatives, can also bring true business value through greater access to new supplies, markets and customers. The Rainforest Alliance is one resource through which companies can develop sustainable sourcing policies and processes to address the risks of climate change.
Here are three top incentives for merging sustainability with business plans:
- Strengthen supply chains’ resilience against climate change. Staying in business means looking towards the future, and a reliable supply chain is the foundation for a successful business. Although climate change is a complex issue, the bottom line for many businesses is that this scientific phenomenon often means lower yields for farmers, placing supplies at risk. The Rainforest Alliance works with farmers to provide solutions for climate change challenges, in addition to providing traceability and transparency in the supply chain, two additional components critical for mitigating risks.
- Serve as a beacon for positive change within your sector. Your company can act as an industry leader by joining the growing movement for a more sustainable business world. Truly resilient organisations continually strive to ensure their future success. Integrating sustainability into your business plans can transform your tactics into a model that peers will want to emulate and measure their success by. Speaking of the Rainforest Alliance work, our president Nigel Sizer recently stated, ‘when we’re out there certifying agricultural and forest products, we are already well ahead of the SDGs. Any company’s supply chain that is consistent with our standard goes above and beyond what’s being mandated by the SDGs.’
- Foster an emotional connection with consumers. More and more, consumers are choosing to support companies that are aligned with environmental and social responsibility. These ‘conscious consumers’ want to feel that companies understand their values and global concerns. According to the branding and marketing agency BBMG, today’s consumers have a strong desire for responsible consumption, and increasingly believe that the right thing to do is the cool thing to do; this ‘creates new possibilities for brands, businesses, and the society that we share.’ Through showing customers that your business’s operations have a conscience, sustainability becomes an opportunity to enhance your relationship with current and new audiences.
Since 1987, the Rainforest Alliance has been actively working to help the private sector realize the business value of sustainability. To date, 101 crop varieties are grown on 1.2 million Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms around the world. As a few examples, production from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms accounts for 15.1 percent of the total world production of tea, 13.6 percent for cocoa, 5.6 percent for bananas, and 5.4 percent for coffee.
To learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable sourcing opportunities, please visit: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/business/