- Co-founder and chairman of the Rainforest Alliance
Daniel R. Katz is the co-founder and chairman of the Rainforest Alliance (RA), an environmental organization that “certifies” certain brands of products if, in its estimation, they are produced in a manner that is not destructive to the environment. Founded in 1986 and attaining nonprofit status in 1987, RA has approximately 25,000 members in 53 countries worldwide and operates on an annual budget of $8.8 million. RA describes its mission as follows: “to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior. . . . Companies, cooperatives, and landowners that participate in our programs meet rigorous standards that conserve biodiversity and provide sustainable livelihoods.” RA seeks to place severe restrictions on industries it deems harmful to the environment, including agriculture, forestry, and tourism.
Of RA’s certification campaign, Katz says: “Consumers will get involved because it is easy. There are common-sense alternatives to deforestation (several created by the Rainforest Alliance), and shoppers come face to face with them every day. It makes perfect sense to purchase wood products that are competitively priced and also produced in harmony with the environment. What could be hard about buying fruits, vegetables, and flowers that look, cost, and taste the same as alternative options but that also protect workers and habitats? The choice is obvious.”
Katz was the Executive Director of RA from its founding in 1986 until June 2000, when Tensie Whelan took over that position. Katz has served as a board member and adviser for several organizations, including the Earth Love Fund, the World Parks Endowment, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is currently the President of JustChange, a group “working to help individuals and nonprofit organizations make strategic social and environmental change.”