Ethical Leaders of 2008

Ethical Corporation magazine named its 10 Ethical Leaders of 2008 yesterday. Those honored include Barack Obama, Bill Gates and John Ruggie, UN special representative for business and human rights.

Another individual given the top honors is Chris Wille, director of sustainable agriculture for the Rainforest Alliance. Wille has been with the Rainforest Alliance since 1987, and was chosen for his work to bring ethical food and drink into the mainstream market. Under Wille's leadership, over 34,000 farms in 22 countries have adopted sustainable practices and have become Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Farmers in the program use practices that protect the environment and the welfare of the workers. Wille has helped sustainable farms supply such large companies as Chiquita, Unilever, Kraft and McDonald's. As the global tea market leader, Unilever worked with the Rainforest Alliance this past year to certify its tea plantations in Kenya.

In a press release, Wille says: "It's a huge honor to be recognized by Ethical Corporation magazine and included among such prominent figures."

"The entire Rainforest Alliance staff deserves this recognition of our achievements in sustainability. Without a cohesive effort from farm to market, our steady transformation of land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior would not have been possible."

After working for over 20 years in conservation in Central America and finally seeing a trend towards marketable sustainability practices, Wille's next challenge is to find a way to reward farmers for the environmental services they provide, such as sequestering carbon and conserving watersheds. Congratulations Chris!