Rainforest Alliance

Q&A with Tensie Whelan: Understanding Sustainable Value Chain Finance

In April 2011, the Rainforest Alliance and Citi Foundation joined forces to host a Sustainable Value Chain Finance Workshop in New York. Although farmers, buyers, exporters, retailers and financial representatives had already been discussing sustainability and value chain finance in terms of their own work, this was the first forum at which a diverse group of stakeholders representing various links in the value chain had gathered to exchange ideas on the topic. In light of a new report summarising the workshop’s outcomes, Rainforest Alliance president Tensie Whelan sheds some light on sustainable value chain finance, and explains why it’s key to the Rainforest Alliance’s work. 

What is sustainable value chain finance (SVCF) and why is it important to the Rainforest Alliance?

Most products we consume are part of a supply chain (or value chain) that starts with producers and runs through intermediaries and on to manufacturers and retailers.

To help producers (like farmers and foresters) to become more sustainable in their own work and to better support the environment and the well-being of workers, we want to encourage businesses to help these producers make the necessary investments by providing access to financing. For example, if a producer wants to build better housing for seasonal workers, he/she may need help with seed money.

How can SVCF benefit readers?

Sustainable value chain finance may help to expand the number of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ products that Frog Blog readers can find in the marketplace.

By choosing products that feature the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, consumers are in effect helping to share the cost burden of improvements with producers.

What is relationship between SVCF and the environment?

SVCF investments often support a healthier environment. For example, farmers are investing in water treatment, native tree reforestation, soil conservation, wildlife preservation and other conservation measures.

What did you think was the most exciting result of the workshop?

The enthusiasm expressed by many different players to tackle these issues together. As a group, we are now creating the conditions that will encourage greater focus on sustainability in supply chain finance.

What can I do to support SVCF projects and products?

Look for the Rainforest Alliance Certified green frog seal!

What’s next, in terms of our work in SVCF?

We are launching a sustainable finance initiative — more on that in January. And we will have a follow-up workshop on sustainable supply chain finance later in the month.

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