FAQ: 2020 Assurance Program
  • 17 Apr 2024
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FAQ: 2020 Assurance Program

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Article Summary

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In addition to these FAQs about our Assurance program, we also have specific FAQs for other areas within our 2020 Certification Program: 

How is assurance working for the new standard?

An important aspect of our new certification program is the collection and verification of credible and useful data and compliance evidence. Through improved data collection, the Rainforest Alliance is able to focus our assurance on issues that pose the greatest risk to the sustainability performance of individual certificate holders or in specific contexts.    

The assurance system for the new standard is based on independent third-party auditing through certification bodies. Certificate holders (CHs) contract with the Rainforest Alliance authorized certification bodies (CBs)  to conduct their audits. Rainforest Alliance provides certificate holders and CBs with a wider range of tools to assess their sustainability risks – such as technology and satellite images to detect environmental risks such as deforestation. Risk profile data collected from certificate holders at registration and mandatory risk analyses of that data allows auditors to focus their verification where the risk is greatest. The Rainforest Alliance is also exploring assurance methods that depend less on audits that are carried out once per year, and more on regular interim verification moments during the agricultural production cycle.

To find out more about assurance in the Rainforest Alliance program, read the 2020 Certification and Auditing Rules.

Can certificate holders be decertified?

Certificate holders must continuously  comply with all core requirements and can be decertified if the core requirements are not met. Non-compliance with the applicable mandatory improvements can also be a reason to not grant a certificate, e.g. if the improvement level is not reached in due time or if the smart-meter data show a decline or stagnation in combination with absence of proof of actions undertaken.

What does the certification process like?

A certificate holder (CH) with farming in scope receives annual audits. A certificate holder without farming in scope may have some sites audited by a certification body (CB) while others are eligible for an endorsement from the Rainforest Alliance without receiving an audit (please see Certification and Auditing Rules for more details). Annual audits cover the full scope of requirements for the CB to confirm that the CH continuously complies  with the applicable requirements of the standard.  

To obtain and/or maintain Rainforest Alliance certification status, the certificate holder needs to go through different steps in the certification process. The steps of the certification audit are described in detail in the Certification and Auditing Rules. It is important for the certificate holder to follow these steps within the timelines defined in the Certification and Auditing Rules to ensure that the certification process will not meet unwanted challenges. Some examples of steps in the certification process: providing required audit application data, audit preparation data within the given timeframe, correctly completing tasks required by the Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform, and proactively cooperating with the certification body to complete the certification request.

What are my obligations as a certificate holder to obtain and maintain certification?

In addition to closely following the certification process, the CH has certain obligations to respect as described in the Certification and Auditing Rules, Section 1.5.

Who are the authorized certification bodies that are authorized to audit my company?

For the 2020 Rainforest Alliance certification program, there is a list of authorized certification bodies published on the Rainforest Alliance website. 

Through the RACP (Rainforest Alliance Certification Platform), the CH can see the CBs with their corresponding scope. The certificate holders can contact different certification bodies to request a quote and  then signs the certification agreement with one selected certification body.

How do Certification Bodies become authorized to perform audits against the Rainforest Alliance standard?

Certification bodies must go through an authorization process to be authorized. Authorization processes are opened at specific times for specific countries. The Rainforest Alliance will communicate any new authorization processes on our resources for Certification Bodies page.

I am the scheme manager of a Certification Body. How does our CB become authorized to perform audits for the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard?

The Rainforest Alliance can open new authorization processes for certification bodies (CBs) to extend our auditing capacity. We will communicate any new authorization processes on our Resources for Certification Bodies page. If no authorization process is open, certification bodies can still express their interest to cbmanagement@ra.org, and we will notify the certification bodies about future authorization processes according to the scope (supply Chain/farm, geographical scope/ crops) that the certification body has communicated to our CB Management team.





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