By Laura Terrall, RA-Cert Director, Rainforest Alliance
The Rainforest Alliance and NEPCon announced last month their intention, subject to agreement on detailed terms, for NEPCon to acquire the RA-Cert business unit that manages Rainforest Alliance’s certification, assurance and auditing services in sectors including forestry, agriculture and tourism. NEPCon is an international non-profit organization that promotes and delivers sustainability certification services and has been working collaboratively on certification and other initiatives with the Rainforest Alliance since 1998. In the months since the announcement of the intent to join, the news has been received positively by trade and industry publications and with certification clients and stakeholders across the globe.
In the interest of transparency, below is a selection of the frequently asked questions that have arisen from conversations with clients and stakeholders throughout this phase of the process. Both the Rainforest Alliance and NEPCon look forward to progressing on the process and to continuing to drive our shared mission.
Who is NEPCon?
NEPCon (Nature Economy and People Connected) is an international non-profit organisation that works to build capacity and commitment for mainstreaming sustainability. Founded in 1994 in Denmark, NEPCon works to foster sustainable land use and responsible trade in forest commodities through innovation projects, capacity building, and sustainability services.
NEPCon is an accredited certifier for sustainability schemes such as FSC , PEFC , RSPO and SBP. NEPCon offers Farm and Chain of Custody certification according to the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard. The organisation also certifies to their own LegalSourceTM and Carbon Footprint Management standards. Learn more at www.nepcon.org.
What will be the future NEPCon relationship with Rainforest Alliance?
Rainforest Alliance and NEPCon will uphold their collaborative relationship, including synergies on standards development, impacts reporting, and continued innovations in certification delivery. Our close partnership includes continued use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal for NEPCon clients certified for FSC and Sustainable Tourism, in addition to Sustainable Agriculture.
Will clients be able to continue using the RAC Seal?
RA and NEPCon will have a collaboration agreement that sets a working relationship around FSC and Sustainable Tourism clients continuing to have access to the RAC seal. More details on the future program will be provided when they are ready. The Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture certification program will continue to offer the seal as already defined in that scheme.
What kind of services will you deliver and in what commodities?
We will continue certification, verification and assurance services that both NEPCon and RA-Cert have been delivering in forestry, agriculture, tourism, responsible sourcing, biomass, and carbon footprinting.
Will primary contacts for certification change?
We do not expect a change in current company contacts. RA-Cert and NEPCon have very little overlap in the regions where our suite of services is offered. This allows our clients to work with the same local representatives.
Will audit schedules and auditors change?
We are planning a transition that will not disrupt normal audit processes. We will continue to work with the same expert staff, partners, and auditors RA-Cert has established globally.
What is the timeline?
Our planned timeline includes contractual matters beginning in April followed by transition planning for the RA-Cert program to move to NEPCon during Fall of 2018
NEPCon and Rainforest Alliance have been close collaborators for two decades, initially working together on FSC™ (Forest Stewardship Council™) certification and expanding to other services, including agriculture certification. Based on this decades-long partnership, the NEPCon and RA-Cert approach to certification management has followed very similar guiding principles. This means clients can expect a seamless transition, with the familiarity of the service model they have come to know, and the high credibility they have come to trust.
“In joining with NEPCon, we look forward to meeting new service needs, such as adding new programmes that allow audit bundling, and keeping an eye towards innovative solutions across our certification and assurance activities. RA-Cert is pleased to make this transition with NEPCon, which serves our shared mission to support sustainability on a local and global scale,” said Laura Terrall, Director of RA-Cert.
The RA-Cert/NEPCon union will have more than 200 staff and a wide network of consultants working worldwide, delivering services on six continents. “The current RA-Cert and NEPCon geographies and services are complementary to each other, and together will drive greater reach and impact,” said Peter Feilberg, Executive Director of NEPCon.
Links to additional information can be found on the Rainforest Alliance website.