Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

Now Reading

Rainforest Alliance to Laud Business Leaders for Environmental and Social Responsibility at Organization's 20th Anniversary Gala

Rainforest Alliance to Laud Business Leaders for Environmental and Social Responsibility at Organization's 20th Anniversary Gala

Published 05-14-07

Submitted by Rainforest Alliance

May 14, 2007 - The Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit international conservation organization, is pleased to announce the 2007 co-chairs and honorees that will be recognized at our 20th anniversary gala on May 16 in New York City. Receiving awards are companies and individuals that have significantly advanced the goals set forth by the Rainforest Alliance and have integrated environmental and social sustainability into their work. They are:


  • Chiquita Brands International, Inc.
  • Kraft Foods Inc.
  • UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, LTD
  • David Refkin, Time Inc.
  • Honorees:

    Corporate Sustainable Standard-Setters (pioneering companies that have collaborated with the Rainforest Alliance and exhibited outstanding leadership in efforts to promote sustainability):

  • Asociación de Comunidades Forestales de Petén
  • Lapa Rios
  • Masisa
  • Potlatch Corporation
  • Corporate Green Globe Awardees (businesses that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to furthering sustainability):

  • Caribou Coffee Company, Inc.
  • innocent
  • Nestlé Nespresso SA
  • Lifetime Achievement Awardee:

  • R.E. Turner

  • Underwriter: Gibson Foundation

    The Gibson Foundation is the philanthropic arm of musical giant Gibson Guitar Corp. It is committed to making the world a better place for children by creating, developing and supporting programs and other non-profit organizations in their efforts to advance education, music and the arts, the environment and health and welfare causes.

    Sponsors: Domtar and the New York Observer

    (See descriptions of the honorees and co-chairs at the end of this release.)

    "The Rainforest Alliance is proud to honor these business leaders that have been incorporating a responsible approach into every day decisions and encouraging sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry and tourism," said Tensie Whelan, executive director of the Rainforest Alliance. "We are encouraged by the expansion of a greener corporate culture that is helping tip global markets toward sustainability."

    The Rainforest Alliance will honor these emerging leaders in the sustainability movement at our 20th anniversary gala awards dinner at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on May 16. A cocktail reception, awards dinner, dancing and a silent auction will take place following a daytime workshop at the New York headquarters of Goldman Sachs hosted by the Rainforest Alliance and attended by representatives from global corporations, small businesses and nonprofit groups helping to drive the sustainable certification trend. Proceeds from the gala benefit our sustainable agriculture, forestry and tourism initiatives.

    Note to editors and producers:

    Members of the media wishing to interview awardees and sponsors or representatives from the Rainforest Alliance can attend a media roundtable on May 16 at 3 p.m. at Goldman, Sachs & Co., 180 Maiden Lane, New York, NY. RSVPs are appreciated. Journalists should bring press identification to show building security. Side interviews at the cocktail reception before the gala or at other times are also possible on request.

    For additional information, contact:

    Gretchen Ruethling, 646-452-1939,

    Stephen Kent, 845-758-0097,

    To learn more about the Rainforest Alliance, visit

    Chiquita Brands International, Inc.

    Founded in 1899, Cincinnati-based Chiquita is the original banana company, although the company now sells a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and packaged foods. Chiquita began working with the Rainforest Alliance in 1992, and managed to get its first banana farm to comply with the sustainable agriculture standard for environmental and social responsibility two years later. By 2000, after considerable effort and investment, all of Chiquita banana farms achieved Rainforest Alliance certification, and the company has since worked with its independent suppliers on qualifying for certification. The impact of Chiquita’s historic commitment has been vast and varied: more than one million trees and bushes have been planted; more than 3,000 tons of plastic are recycled annually; pesticide use is strictly controlled; streams and rivers run cleaner; and tens of thousands of workers benefit from safe working conditions, and decent housing and healthcare. As part of the certification process, Chiquita has developed a new code of conduct and began publishing corporate responsibility reports. Chiquita has even created an outdoor education center and nature reserve in Costa Rica for local children and teachers. Beyond improving the social and ecological conditions in banana growing regions today, Chiquita is planting the seeds of a sustainable future.

    Kraft Foods Inc.

    As one of the world's leading food and beverage companies, Kraft, with brands such as Maxwell House, Yuban, Kenco, Jacobs, Gevalia and Jacques Vabre, is passionate about coffee. In 2003, Kraft and the Rainforest Alliance launched a partnership to move Rainforest Alliance Certified sustainable coffee to mainstream markets. To date, Kraft has purchased more than 50 million pounds of coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and has successfully launched six coffee products in Europe and the US that feature the Rainforest Alliance seal. Kraft’s commitment to Rainforest Alliance certification has had an impressive impact on coffee producing regions, where thousands of farms have adopted the sustainable agriculture standard, resulting in better worker housing, healthcare, education and the protection of forests, wildlife and rivers. Farmers have invested the premiums Kraft pays for its Rainforest Alliance coffee in an array of improvements ranging from a school in El Salvador that the Ciudad Barrios Coffee Cooperative built for a nearby community to reforestation by farmers in the severely deforested Convencion Valley of southeast Peru, where shade coffee farms provide the only refuge for many threatened animal species.

    UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, LTD

    UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, Ltd. is not only Japan's largest coffee roaster, it is Asia’s leading promoter of sustainable coffee and orange juice. Since it was established in 1933, UCC has been instrumental in increasing coffee’s popularity in Japan and southeast Asia, where the company sells cans of brewed coffee and packages of ground and roasted beans. While it is known for the high quality of its products, UCC also contributes to the quality of life in farming communities by purchasing Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and oranges. Those farms include Guatemala’s Finca Nueva Granada, where the owners have established a library and vaccination program for workers’ children, as well as various other farms in El Salvador that protect streams, forests and wildlife. By contributing to increased coffee consumption in Asia while buying from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, 74-year-old UCC can continue to support sustainable development for generations to come.

    David Refkin, Time Inc.

    David Refkin has played a vital role in promoting sustainable forestry practices, the use of environmentally preferable paper by the publishing industry, and in raising awareness of global warming. Educated in accounting and business management, Refkin spent years working in Time Inc.'s paper purchasing division before becoming president of TI Paperco, which purchases paper for Time Inc.'s 135 magazines, six book companies and other Time Warner divisions. He was later named director of sustainable development at Time Inc., where his commitment to reducing the company's environmental footprint has made it a model of corporate environmental responsibility. But Refkin has taken his mission well beyond the halls of that media giant, representing Time in the Paper Working Group, a coalition of 20 companies promoting the use of environmentally preferable paper, and serving as Time Warner's liaison delegate to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. He also serves on the board of trustees of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and is a member of the board of directors of the National Recycling Coalition.

    R.E. Turner

    The legacy of R.E. Turner is not only one of a visionary media mogul and entrepreneur who launched a series of successful cable networks including TBS, CNN, CNN Headline News, CNN International, TNT and the Cartoon Network, but of an influential philanthropist and environmentalist who has donated about $1.5 billion to causes focused on the environment, youth and global health. He chairs the Turner Foundation, Inc., which supports efforts to improve air and water, develop sustainable energy, protect wildlife and create policies to curb population growth. He also chairs the United Nations Foundation, which was founded in 1997 with a historic $1 billion pledge by Turner to promote a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. The foundation leads the World Heritage Alliance (WHA), which ensures that tourism to UNESCO sites is practiced sustainably; the Rainforest Alliance, Expedia Inc. and others are WHA project partners. R.E. Turner is also chairman of Turner Enterprises Inc., which sustainably manages the two million acres of land he personally owns in 14 western states and Argentina. Finally, earlier this year, Turner announced a partnership with a solar energy developer to create a renewable energy company and provide clean power solutions. The Rainforest Alliance first honored Turner with a Green Globe award in 1995. We honor him yet again with this lifetime achievement award for his ongoing and bold commitment to conservation.

    Nestlé Nespresso SA

    Nestlé Nespresso SA's AAA Sustainable Quality&trade Program is changing the way increasing quantities of the world’s coffee is grown. The AAA Program was developed and launched in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance and its partners in the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), a coalition of independent, nonprofit conservation groups that set the Rainforest Alliance Certified standards, and is supported by all of Nespresso’s green coffee suppliers and experts in sustainability. In the three years since the program's inception, there has been substantial improvement in coffee quality, environmental sustainability and social responsibility on more than 16,000 farms that produce coffee for Nespresso's gourmet coffee capsules. Experts from the Rainforest Alliance and SAN groups in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Mexico train and then visit farmers periodically to ensure they meet and exceed the sustainability standards developed by the SAN partners in collaboration with Nespresso. These standards improve conditions for farm workers and communities, enhance coffee quality and protect the natural resources on which farmers depend for their livelihoods. To date, 30 percent of Nespresso’s coffee is sourced from farms belonging to the AAA Program. By 2010 the share of coffees from the program will rise to 50 percent of total volume (a volume which is set to double in the same period), making it a truly successful model of sustainability at work.

    Caribou Coffee Company, Inc.

    Since opening its first coffee house in 1992, the Minneapolis-based Caribou Coffee Company has grown into the second largest company-owned, gourmet coffeehouse operator in the United States. In each of its more than 450 coffeehouses, Caribou Coffee advances its mission to deliver an experience that makes the day better. The company extends that positive sentiment to the farms and communities from which it purchases coffee, improving the lives of farmers, workers, their families and the environment through its partnership with the Rainforest Alliance. Caribou Coffee is helping its supplier farms comply with the organization's certification standard for environmental and social responsibility, a process that has led to better working conditions, a healthier environment and community improvements in dozens of coffee growing areas. By 2008, Caribou Coffee’s goal is to buy fifty percent of its coffee supply from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. In addition to its work with the Rainforest Alliance, Caribou Coffee also donates money to other nonprofit organizations that work in poor coffee growing communities. This includes Coffee Kids and Grounds for Health, and the funding of charitable efforts, including the construction and support of a rural clinic, which they are doing together with an exporter in Guatemala.


    Founded eight years ago, innocent is the UK's fastest growing food and drink business and the number one smoothie brand, selling over two million drinks each day. innocent wants to make it easy for people to do themselves some good and leave the planet a little bit better than they found it. This is reflected in everything the company does, from its use of green electricity in all its offices and the development of ecologically sound packaging to its fleet of hybrid vehicles. Each year, 10 percent of the company’s profits are donated to the innocent Foundation, which supports community and conservation projects in the countries where innocent sources its fruit. One such project is an environmental education program in Costa Rica, where innocent buys its bananas from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. The company is hoping to add Rainforest Alliance Certified pineapples, passion fruit and acai to that list as well. "As soon as other fruits become available in the quantities that we need, we'll buy a whole lot more from those crazy Rainforest people," says innocent co-founder Richard Reed.

    Potlatch Corporation

    In an industry long embroiled in controversial environmental issues, the Potlatch Corporation stands apart from the crowd in its dedication to environmentally and socially responsible forest management. The Washington State-based business owns and manages more than 1.5 million acres in Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and has 13 manufacturing facilities that produce lumber, plywood, particleboard, bleached paperboard, pulp and tissue products. Potlatch practices a mix of natural and plantation forest management, and has planted more than 190 million trees since 1990. The company also invests in continuing education for professional foresters, and has a college scholarship program for high schools located near its operations. Potlatch has earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for all of its long-held core forestry operations, for most of its lumber facilities, and is currently taking steps to get FSC certification for its newly acquired land in Wisconsin. Potlatch has worked with various conservation organizations to ensure that the company’s forests continue to provide habitat for wildlife and migratory birds. Potlatch has worked closely with Rainforest Alliance on the certification of its lands in Minnesota, Arkansas and Wisconsin.


    With corporate offices in Santiago, Chile and more than 600,000 acres (374,506 hectares) of sustainably managed forests and tree plantations, Masisa manufactures boards, molding, doors and other wood products at 13 plants in five Latin American countries. Masisa’s dedication to environmental and social stewardship has earned it several awards, including Chile's National Environmental Prize and the Leaders for a Living Planet award from WWF-Chile. Once degraded pastureland, Masisa's tree plantations and all of the company's lands are now certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for meeting the group's rigorous environmental and social standards. As company policy, Masisa prioritizes worker health and safety, environmental protection and sustainable economic development. For example, Masisa works with indigenous and other local groups to improve their quality of life through the establishment of potable water systems and vocational training centers.

    Lapa Rios

    After selling their home in Minnesota more than a decade ago, Karen and John Lewis purchased a thousand acres on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Eager to set up a new home and do something good for the planet, they built Lapa Rios, a luxury eco-lodge that has become a model of sustainable tourism-a profitable, socially and environmentally responsible enterprise that has won an array of awards and accolades. Once-endangered, Lapa Rios' lands today provide protection for endangered jaguars, tapirs and scarlet macaws. Not only does Lapa Rios provide for wildlife, it offers community members' employment, vocational training and the incentive to conserve their environment. And as they observe the toucans, sloths and coatis from the balconies of their environmentally-sensitive bungalows, each year thousands of Lapa Rios guests also learn the value of responsible land stewardship.


    Known by its Spanish acronym, ACOFOP, the Asociación de Comunidades Forestales de Petén represents 23 grassroots organizations that together manage about 500,000 hectares in the Maya Biosphere Reservation (MBR) of Guatemala. ACOFOP was formed in the early 1990s to defend the traditional rights of poor, remote communities in and around the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The association lobbied the government to grant community groups sustainably managed forest concessions within the reserve's multiple use zone, and then helped those groups earn Forest Stewardship Council/Rainforest Alliance certification for their forestry operations. ACOFOP has since worked with the Rainforest Alliance to find better markets for their certified wood and forest products "“ a joint effort that has improved family incomes and enabled the groups to invest profits in educational programs, water systems and other community development efforts. They have also invested in conservation, and the results speak for themselves: While nearly half of nearby Laguna del Tigre National Park and other nearby areas not under sustainable management have been deforested during the past 15 years, the ACOFOP concessions retain more than 95 percent of their forests.

    Rainforest Alliance logo

    Rainforest Alliance

    Rainforest Alliance

    The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works around the world to conserve forests and natural resources while advancing sustainable livelihoods in agriculture, forestry and tourism.

    More from Rainforest Alliance

    Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox