Lindsey Allen, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network, knows a thing or two about campaigning for the environment and human rights.
In her seven years at the Rainforest Action Network, she managed to convince Disney to source Rainforest-Free Paper for all of its global products. She secured a commitment from food giant Cargill to use responsible palm oil. She tirelessly pressured massive corporations to make their practices more sustainable and fair.
Here, Allen shares her thoughts on ethically sourced ingredients, conscious palm oil and even corporate personhood.
"We essentially work in three problematic areas. Preserving the rainforest is our first priority of course, specifically the tropical forest belt and for the forests of Southeast Asia. The goal is to reign in the key drivers of deforestation and human rights issues. We help consumers vote with their dollars to help stem active clearing of forests, and we help communities have their land rights recognized.
Second, we’ve been doing energy and climate work for more than a decade. Deforestation contributes to 20 percent of global carbon emissions. In terms of our energy work, we really decided to follow the bank. Which companies were banks investing in? For example, we got Bank of America to announce they will not be financing coal companies anymore. We also support grassroots organizing, and recognize that solutions come from a community level.
Third is our small grants program called the Climate Action Fund, which allows individuals, businesses and organizations to offset carbon emissions by supporting indigenous people fighting to have land rights recognized in areas at-risk for deforestation. The fund goes directly into the community to help keep fossil fuels in the ground."
"We take the "network" part of our name very seriously.
Synergy with other organizations is key. The model of one organization being so strong and powerful that it can save the planet in isolation doesn’t ring true anymore. It's important that RAN can share, support and listen to grassroots leadership. That's what is going to be really effective in the long run."
"More shoppers than ever understand the interconnections between issues like climate change and deforestation. We get a lot of traction with human and indigenous rights violations, like poor working conditions, and making sure that people are being compensated and treated fairly as they produce commodities like sugar, rice, coffee and cocoa.
Responsibly sourced palm oil in particular is resonating with consumers who appreciate the value of rainforests."
"Companies each need to understand supply chains to a much deeper level and make sure they aren’t outsourcing their values to a [RSPO] label that can’t hold up.
This means a combination of direct relationships with farmers and understanding what your supply chain is. When you can trace an ingredient back to the source, you can get a better level of assurance that it was responsibly sourced. There's massive exploitation with producers who feel like they can hide within a convoluted supply chain. Some middlemen traders, who often buy low and sell high, don't have any reason to add transparency and traceability.
Last September, Cargill said they would eliminate deforestation and long supply chains. This is a result of a brand saying, 'you can't hide this information from us.' Especially in the natural foods market, consumers have a level of expectations around ingredient quality that includes consciousness."
"I would get rid of corporate personhood and eliminate the ability for corporations to finance elections to support candidates. This would pull the tentacles of corporate financing away from our democracy."
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I am so glad that people are working on bringing awareness and helping with rainforest conservation!
Such an important subject! We need to work to preserve the earth that we have and support causes and companies that believe and act the same. Fair trade, sustainable and environmentally healthy for the win. Thank you for working so hard to save our rain forests!
What a powerful initiative with great strides made by Lindsey Allen in a short period of time.
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