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March 2012 C&CI • Profile • 49

Coffee certifier sees climate change role for farmers


ensie Whelan has been involved with the Rainforest Alliance since 1990, first as a board member, and then as a consultant, becoming Executive Director in 2000. She has been working in the environmental field for more than 25 years, during which time she served as the Vice President of Conservation Information at the National Audubon Society and Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. Whelan also worked as a journalist and environmental communications consult- ant in Costa Rica, and was Managing Editor of Ambio, an international environ- mental journal based in Stockholm. Prior to joining the Rainforest Alliance as its Executive Director, she worked as a man- agement consultant to nonprofit organisa- tions such as the Environmental Defense Fund.

Whelan also serves on the advisory boards of Social Accountability International and Unilever Sustainable Sourcing, and is the co-chair of the steer- ing committee of the Sustainable Food Lab. She holds an MA in International Communication from American University’s School of International Service and a BA in Political Science from New York University. Her published work includes one of the first books on ecofriendly tourism, Nature Tourism: Managing for the Environment (1991, Island Press). She was also recognised as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics’ by Ethisphere for sev- eral years, including in 2011, and was the recipient of the Wall Street Journal/WinningWorkplace ‘Top Small Workplace Award’ for the Rainforest Alliance in 2008. In a New Year communication from the Rainforest Alliance marking its 25th anniversary, Ms Whelan focussed on what she called "a quarter of a century of devising, implementing, promoting and assessing tools that conserve biodiversity and foster the well-being of families and communities around the world." Looking to the next quarter century,

Tensie Whelan, President of the Rainforest Alliance, says the organisation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this

year, is focusing increasingly on helping famers mitigate the effects of climate change

Tensie Whelan: tackling climate change is an increasingly important part of what the Rainforest Alliance does

Whelan said, among other goals, the Rainforest Alliance had resolved to ensure that more than 177 million acres of forest- land are managed sustainably; train com- munity forestry enterprises in new regions, and help these businesses gain access to credit; establish new projects that provide forest managers with opportunities to earn carbon credit payments; and protect more than 10,000 miles of freshwater streams by working with tourism businesses to implement water conservation practices.


practices "We also plan to train 1,000 farmers to implement climate-friendly agricultural practices… and help make a variety of new Rainforest Alliance certified products available to consumers who are serious about making sustainable choices," she explained.

The Rainforest Alliance logo has become familiar to just about everyone in the coffee trades, and is increasingly familiar to those in the cocoa market. At the end of last year, Rainforest Alliance announced that it had teamed with Olam International to produce the world’s first ‘climate-friendly cocoa.’ This followed hard on the heels of El Platanillo coffee farm in San Marcos, Guatemala, becoming the world’s first Rainforest Alliance Certified farm to be verified for com- pliance with the Climate Module of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), the international coalition of conservation organ- isations that manages Rainforest Alliance certification (see elsewhere in this issue).

Low carbon development

Ms Whelan said the cocoa project, which is taking place in Ghana, would have a huge impact on informing Ghana’s emerg-

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