In 2013 Solidaridad the Netherlands effectively implemented an account management structure for 56 European companies and is currently discussing close strategic partnerships with seven of these companies. This move from a quantitative to a qualitative approach has already proved its value and ambitious targets have been set for the years ahead.
Recent trends clearly show that there is a growing commitment by companies to invest in good business practices and to improve the sustainability performance of their suppliers. However, despite such commitments, progress can be undermined. Until recently Solidaridad distinguished three types of companies: first movers, followers and laggards. Now there is a fourth category: underperformers – companies that do not live up to their commitments. An example of this was Dutch soy importers, who did not increase their uptake of RTRS certified soy within the agreed deadline. This not only demotivates producers; it also sends a wrong signal to the market. In such cases, the challenge for Solidaridad is to combine the role of a constructive partner with that of a – sometimes public – critic.
Main achievements & partnerships
When it comes to partnerships, Solidaridad the Netherlands is moving from quantity to quality. In line with this approach, strategic partnerships are being developed with Unilever, Nestlé, Mars, Friesland Campina, H&M and M&S. These partnerships are designed to achieve a market transformation which is sustainable and relevant for producers and customers alike. The Dutch government, which is making a shift from aid to trade, recognizes Solidaridad’s expertise in this field and is providing continued support for programmes around the world.
Solidaridad’s traditional focus has been on developing and improving standards systems, and this is crucial for achieving sector change. Notwithstanding this commitment, Solidaridad sees the need for a critical debate on whether these systems effectively address the root causes of poverty and unsustainable production systems. As a learning organisation, Solidaridad will use this debate to improve its strategies.
The budget of Solidaridad the Netherlands was €18.9 million in 2013, representing 57% of the total Network budget. In terms of staffing, Solidaridad Utrecht has grown from 30.7 to 31.9 FTEs. The scope of this office has been broadened to accommodate new livestock and aquaculture programmes, and tackling food insecurity.