Uncommon collaborations – a view from the Rainforest Alliance conference and Gala

I spent yesterday at the Rainforst Alliance Marketing Sustainability and Certification Workshop in New York and enjoyed their Gala Dinner where Mars was honoured with a Sustainable Standard Setter award by Rainforest Alliance in recognition of commitments and work in sustainability.

Two key themes emerged from the panels and presentations on which our own Global Staff Officer for Plant Science and External Research, Howard Shapiro, participated.

Firstly the point of “uncommon collaborations.” The challenges of scaling sustainability initiatives up remains so complex that approaching new partners in new ways will be a critical challenge to take on. I’m walking away with renewed interest to find ways to partner with industry, NGOs, producer governments, and producer communities as we work to take on Howard’s top 3 challenges of building capacity, building capacity and building capacity.

Secondly the opportunity offered by tipping points. If we want a sustainable cocoa sector, we must get to, and beyond, the tipping point between niche and mainstream sustainability projects and programs. Howard proposed 37% as a statistically justified tipping point. We have a goal of 50% of the cocoa industry to be certified by 2020. For sure we cannot get to the tipping point alone, so I’m thinking that “uncommon collaborations” might be our route to get there.

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