Authored by 

SANTIAGO GOWLAND
CEO,
Rainforest Alliance

As the climate crisis escalates, and biodiversity loss reaches its peak, there is a clear need to rethink the way products are farmed. Regenerative Agriculture has the potential to aid the fight against climate change and reverse biodiversity loss and is an opportunity to help farming communities increase resilience and drive positive change across the coffee sector.

A FUTURE WHERE PEOPLE AND NATURE THRIVE TOGETHER

The Rainforest Alliance was established in 1987 to address the impact of agriculture on the destruction of tropical forests. In 2022, now celebrating our 35th anniversary, we’ve grown to become a global alliance of farmers, forest communities, companies, civil society organisations and individuals committed to driving positive change across global supply chains and in many of our most critically important natural landscapes.

Currently the Rainforest Alliance is active in 70 countries, working with more than two million certified farmers and over 5,000 companies. 

We’re perhaps best known for the Rainforest Alliance ‘green frog’ seal, awarded to products and ingredients that are responsibly sourced and that meet the criteria of the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard. For consumers, the seal shows them that farmers and companies are taking steps to make their products more sustainable and helps them make better purchasing choices.

Certification is not the only tool in the Rainforest Alliance toolbox. We also have a strong track record in providing supply chain services to support companies’ responsible sourcing commitments, both in line with and beyond the traditional certification offering, and a deep commitment to working with and in service of farmers and forest communities in sustainable socio-economic development and human rights.

Our best hope for a brighter, more resilient future is to embrace sustainability on a systemic and massive scale. That’s why our alliance is built upon a simple, yet powerful idea: when we act collectively, amongst civil society, private sector, and the public interest, we can create a world where people and nature thrive together. 
 

A SHARED, REGENERATIVE VISION WITH NESPRESSO 

From developing the first guidelines for coffee farming defined as socially responsible, to the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard that provides a path to more resilient and inclusive agricultural practices, the Rainforest Alliance has long been instrumental in shaping the way the world produces and sources commodities.

Today, we recognise that forward-thinking stakeholders are seeking to drive transformative actions that go beyond the claim of “sustainable”. The Rainforest Alliance is therefore collaborating with actors in various sectors to promote the concept of Regenerative Agriculture.

Taking an agroecological approach, Regenerative Agriculture places greater emphasis on soil management, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and economic resilience, thus leading to climate change mitigation, resilient livelihoods, and prosperous farmers.

The challenge in moving this approach forward is that there is no industry-wide definition of Regenerative Agriculture, which makes it difficult for farmers to identify their specific needs.

Nespresso has long invested into nature-focused actions such as agroforestry and also recognises this gap. Therefore, building on our long-standing collaboration and the proven impact of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, developed together with the Rainforest Alliance, we’ve embarked on a joint approach to define and deploy Regenerative Agriculture at scale in AAA coffee farms and landscapes. The result: a Regenerative Coffee Scorecard. 

THE REGENERATIVE COFFEE SCORECARD

The Regenerative Coffee Scorecard is a voluntary tool for certified and non-certified supply chains. It guides farmers through a stepwise pathway from efficient practices to redesigned nature-based farming and is designed to be easily adapted for different origins.

The transition to Regenerative Agriculture cannot be achieved by farmers alone. It will require the collaboration of multiple coffee stakeholders, to innovate and finance solutions. But we are encouraged to have come this far and be at the forefront of the transition to a regenerative coffee sector.

A PARTNERSHIP FOR POSITIVE IMPACT

Nespresso is one of the Rainforest Alliance’s largest coffee certification partners. Our collaboration has fostered a deeper understanding of how to best support and advance sustainable coffee farming and effectuate changes for positive impact. Both the AAA Program and the Rainforest Alliance certification program have evolved to support farmers on their journey of continuous improvement in areas such as productivity and in the development of a business approach to farming. We are now at a critical juncture where we have the opportunity, and responsibility, to evolve again.

 
Together, the Rainforest Alliance and Nespresso seek to continue and increase the uptake of regenerative practices for coffee farmers around the world, focusing on key practices such as composting, organic fertiliser, cover crops, and multi-strata shade cover. Equally, we wish to see smallholder farmers rewarded for their positive contributions to biodiversity and climate mitigation, through economic incentives, stable commercial relationships, and financial rewards. This is a future we would like to see for the entire coffee sector. 

DRIVING MEANINGFUL CHANGE TOGETHER 

Having seen the positive impact of our work over the past 20 years and beyond, we are committed, with like-minded partners such as Nespresso, to further innovate, adapt and improve to pave the way forward. Not only for the benefit of farmers and their communities, but also to mobilise and educate individuals who have a critical role to play – in terms of their actions and purchasing habits, as well as in holding companies and other stakeholders accountable.

We look forward to a continued partnership with Nespresso to drive meaningful change together.