RAN's executive director Rebecca Tarbotton on RAN's vision for the future

The Intersection of Climate Change, Deforestation, and Human Rights

Making systemic change in the world is hard work, decades-long hard work – but with the right combination of issues, strategies, experience and tenacity it is possible to achieve victories that have lasting impacts. We know this because for the last 25 years, Rainforest Action Network has taken on corporate titans and secured real wins for the forests, climate and human rights. 

While RAN’s approach to social change has transformed over the years to meet new challenges, our core beliefs and strategies remain the same. Throughout our 25-year history, we have never strayed from our unique role of making the radical reasonable, utilizing the right combination of bold actions and savvy negotiations to raise the bar on business-as-usual. We have also never wavered in our belief that humans can live in harmony with the rest of nature while enjoying a wonderfully rich quality of life. 

To get there, we need to drastically transform the way we do business and how we run our economy. A November 2010 article in The New York Times announced that in the last quarter, corporate profits were the highest on record. Ever. This, while the nations’ workers are struggling to make ends meet, unemployment is crushing American families and the gap between rich and poor has grown to the widest on record. No great shock that corporate profits are delinked from prosperity, but never before has the need to address this disconnect been greater. The same corporate profits that are failing to feed and clothe millions of Americans are also responsible for a suicidal rate of deforestation in the world’s last remaining rainforests and dependence on fossil fuels that are cooking the climate. U.S. corporations are making more money than ever, while destroying our life support systems and…..not making us richer.

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Photos: Jonathan Mcintosh / RAN; Getty Images; Rhett Butler / Mongabay.com

Twenty-five years ago, RAN pioneered a corporate campaigning model that has succeeded in moving companies and whole sectors towards a lighter footprint and away from the worst environmental and human rights abuses. Looking out on the next quarter century, this work is more relevant than ever. This past year will go down in history as the year that all governments failed to take bold action on climate. But it will also go down in history as the year that U.S. banks turned their backs on mountaintop removal mining, the Canadian banking sector committed to seriously addressing human rights in the tar sands and the U.S. food sector began to phase out palm oil grown on destroyed rainforests. Simply put, while governments were looking at their feet, RAN succeeded in pushing the corporate sector to take bold steps in support of forests, the climate and human rights. 

Social change in the next 25 years is going to look, in the words of Poet William Stafford, like “millions of intricate moves.” Unfortunately, we cannot rely on our lumbering, ailing democracy to meet the challenges of this moment with the speed that is needed. RAN, with our expertise in corporate campaigning and ability to be tactically and strategically nimble while holding firm to our core commitment to work for what the earth needs and communities deserve, is poised and ready to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

I invite you to join us.


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Lindsey Allen is a world-class campaigner with more than a decade of experience and an unmatched track record pressuring and inspiring some of the world’s largest corporations to protect rainforests. Allen has spent her career preventing commodity expansion into globally critical forest areas, and has played a central role in achieving some of the most significant corporate policy commitments to protect forests over the past decade.
Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. The strength of this Network stems from the bold activists, engaged donors, dedicated online advocates, frontline allies and vigilant organizations that work with us to challenge corporate power and to stand for thriving ecosystems around the globe.