Europe 2016

In 2016, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave its partnership with Solidaridad a fresh boost following the evaluation of the successful Farmer Support Programme. Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Lilianne Ploumen, signed agreements with Solidaridad allocating a total of €80 million by 2020. The strategic partnership is compliant with the ministry’s “aid for trade” policy. Solidaridad has been a pioneer in reforming economies and development policy in this way for several decades.


Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal, Fresh Studio and Solidaridad organized the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge in Vietnam, connecting innovative solutions for aquaculture development to sources of knowledge, finance and capital worldwide. Solidaridad Europe also led in-depth discussions with numerous private-sector companies about the business case for black tiger shrimps.

The network for Women in Cocoa & Chocolate (WINCC) was launched during the World Cocoa Conference in May 2016. WINCC facilitates collaboration for women to be more visible, easier to connect with each other and to be found. The network hopes to inspire women to increase their sphere of influence and take the lead. WINCC should contribute to quality and the long-term effectiveness of interventions at field level by leveraging the power of women along the value chain.

In June, Solidaridad presented the results of its global climate-smart agriculture agenda in Dublin during the World of Coffee Event, organized by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. Engaging with the European coffee sector is part of a broader strategy to involve more companies in supporting smallholders to adapt their coffee production model to prevent the increasingly negative effects of climate change.

The publication of Solidaridad’s report Mind the Gap and the Cotton Ranking, on the divergence between the supply of more sustainable cotton and the demand or actual uptake by companies, has been instrumental for Solidaridad in engaging with a broad group of companies. The topic of uptake of sustainable cotton and the role of companies in driving demand is now central to ongoing discussions in the cotton sector.

Solidaridad Europe developed a clear vision on how to professionalize dairy in Africa and Asia and make it business driven, climate smart and sustainable. This vision was shared with sector leaders at the World Dairy Summit in Rotterdam. The new vision is guiding development of new programmes within Solidaridad’s global network like in Myanmar, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Solidaridad Europe is building coalitions in the fruit and vegetable sector to develop and drive the sustainability agenda. Solidaridad is an active member of the World Banana Forum. In the juice sector, Solidaridad is working with Friesland Campina Riedel and a group of companies in the CSR workgroup of the European Fruit Juice Association (AIJN). For the fresh fruit market, Solidaridad signed a covenant with fruit and vegetable companies, convened by IDH, that included commitments for 100% sustainable sourcing in 2020.

In May, the new European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) was launched. The EPRM is co-founded by Solidaridad and brings together industry, governments and CSOs with the goals of increasing the volume of responsible produced minerals, supporting local development, and promoting dialogue and learning.

Solidaridad Europe engages companies in the leather sector to clean up their supply chain. An initial collaboration was set up with chemical company Stahl in several leather-producing regions in the world. Stahl is the global market leader in chemicals for the leather sector. New partnerships are now being developed with downstream buyers and manufacturing companies who use leather in the garment and shoe sectors.

Solidaridad supported setting up the European Sustainable Palm Oil Initiative to strengthen the demand for sustainable palm oil. Solidaridad stressed the importance of more production and purchases of sustainable palm oil at various industry events and contributed to a broad discussion: We need more than traceability and certification to make the palm oil supply chain inclusive. Other instruments and the engagement of governments can help us to have more impact.

The partnership with Marks & Spencer in Paraguay ended in 2016. The only remaining partnership is with Dutch Sustainable Pork Value Chain Association, which supports the Mozambique soy programme. Additionally, Solidaridad cooperated closely with the dairy sector that sources 100% RTRS “book and claim” soy in Netherlands, and through ARLA in Denmark and Sweden.

In Europe, Solidaridad raised awareness about social and environmental challenges in the sugarcane sector in India and Central America. The impact of chronic kidney disease in Central America increasingly garners the attention of a broad public. Hopefully, small steps towards sustainable production can lead to substantial health gains for sugarcane workers.

Solidaridad Europe collaborated with the DE foundation and Utz Certified to evaluate a tea programme in Sri Lanka. It also supported the development of a new proposal and project for the European Union for the tea programme in Sri Lanka. Solidaridad also continued to spur the global debate on living wages by contributing its experiences from the tea sector.

Solidaridad continued working to achieve sector level transformation by engaging more brands with sustainability and getting them to think about how they can be part of the solution through their design and purchasing practices. Sustainability in the supply chain is possible, but it needs scalability and engagement of the whole supply chain.


The turbulence Europe experienced in 2016 is continuing. Changes are taking place in Europe’s economy, politics and society. War and conflict dominate the eastern border (Russia, Ukraine, Turkey/Syria), while on the western side, the UK and the USA are turning away from Europe. The ancient Mediterranean region has become a deadly border for refugees and people seeking a better future on the European continent. Within Europe, terrorist attacks have sparked fear and anger. Many countries are prone to nationalism and isolationism and international cooperation is under threat, particularly the European Union. However, amid all the turmoil, the European economy grew in 2016 and the outlook for 2017-18 is good.

How will Europe tackle geopolitical tensions on its borders? Can international cooperation under such conditions produce solutions to climate change, provide food for a growing global population and secure the future for the next generation? Will European governments continue to support international efforts to build a more sustainable economy? As international cooperation is at the heart of Solidaridad’s vision and strategy, it will continue to defend and promote cooperation as a precondition for solving global issues.

The European private sector has been at the forefront of efforts to improve corporate responsibility performance. Many companies have successfully addressed the impact of their own production processes. Mitigating risk and improving efficiency remain the most important drivers for CSR, and there is a strong focus on integrating CSR into the core operations of companies. Solidaridad believes that a compliance strategy (using certification) by itself is not enough. Greater innovation is needed to bring about permanent change.


Solidaridad is developing partnerships with companies, governments, donors and knowledge centres in Europe. In 2016, 78 contracted partnerships were managed by the team in the Netherlands, including 28 corporate partnerships, 14 donor relationships and 6 partnerships with government organizations.

Fundraising efforts were also successful in 2016. The total income was €3.25 million above budget, amounting to a budget of almost €18.6 million. This is mainly due to an increase in government subsidies. Income from individual private donors remained stable at €1.5 million, the same as in 2015.

Solidaridad also expanded its corporate engagement with companies and brands in Europe with the aim of adopting more sustainable policies and practices and contributing to sector change. All partnerships are tailor-made and cover such activities as sustainable sourcing, including supply-chain partners, advocacy and knowledge sharing. Some 26 companies and brands also funded specific Solidaridad projects.

In addition, the WWF, Pesticides Action Network UK and Solidaridad commissioned the Cotton Ranking report to show that production of more sustainable cotton is far ahead of uptake and to compare the sourcing policies of major cotton-using companies. Solidaridad played an important role in the steering committee of the Dutch Covenant for Sustainable Textiles and is one of the founding members of the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals. The launch of the Women in Cocoa & Chocolate Network during the 3rd World Cocoa Conference received a sector award from the global cocoa organization ICCO.

While the publicity around the Panama Papers successfully addressed financial malversation and tax evasion in the global financial sector, Solidaridad in the Netherlands was caught in the crossfire and wrongly accused of being part of the problem as a result of Solidaridad Latin America being registered in Panama. Effective issue management countered this media storm.

The Farmer Support Programme (FSP), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concluded and was evaluated in 2016. FSP was launched in 2011 and aimed to relieve poverty by setting universally agreed standards through roundtable initiatives and training farmers to implement them. It was supported by €52.8 million of funding, of which €22.3 million came from private sector sources. Over 638,000 agricultural producers and almost 209,000 workers in 27 countries benefitted from this programme through the adoption of good practices, resulting in increased productivity, better financial and environmental management of farms, and more efficient use of seeds, agrochemicals and fertilizers. Solidaridad formed partnerships with 90 consumer goods companies and 190 value chain companies that are now buying and selling more sustainable raw materials as a result. Most of the FSP targets have been achieved, while important lessons for improvement have also been provided. These lessons have been instrumental in the inception phase of Solidaridad’s renewed partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


In 2016, Solidaridad invested in the continuing development of “Communities of Change”. It engaged with various corporate actors in production and sourcing activities in countries of origin, as well as with corporate actors in 12 international value chains. Some of these activities were commodity specific, while others were related to multiple agro-commodities, mining and industrial products.

Solidaridad has underlined the unprecedented value of collaboration between corporate actors and civil society by establishing and co-managing 28 long-term partnerships with European and global partners.

The development of inclusive and sustainable value chains and sectors requires collaboration. Together with business partners, Solidaridad works to build viable businesses, social inclusion and resilient eco-service systems. Solidaridad experts are encouraged that partner commitments for optimizing the distribution of supply chain benefits had a demonstrable and meaningful impact at the point of origin on producers, smallholders, miners and factory workers.

Solidaridad is proud to work with this group of corporate partners, with a common goal of developing future-proof models in both production and supply chains. Together with partners, Solidaridad has learned the value of emphasizing the proof of concept of best practices and robust market infrastructures.

The impact generated will be further optimized and brought to scale once both the short-term and long-term objectives of Solidaridad and the corporate partner are fully aligned. Actions must support impact at the producer level, as well as improve the infrastructure and business value.

Solidaridad’s approach to the development of new corporate partnerships with companies such as Stahl (in leather) and Syngenta (seeds and crop protection) will foster new programmes. Expectations have been set to further develop the network of committed corporate partners in water and soil management, crop nutrition, seeds and plant materials.

Solidaridad continued developing partnerships in industrial mining. Further unprecedented collaboration is in progress with commodity traders and financial institutions. Finally, leading European retailers have been approached to step up their joint efforts.

Special thanks in 2016 go to Unilever, Royal Friesland Campina, Nestlé, Kering, Syngenta, Henkel, H&M, Stahl, Marks & Spencer, Mars, Mondelez, BASF and Colruyt.


By the end of 2016, Solidaridad in Europe employed 42 people, six more than last year. Over the year, an average of 33.5 full-time staff (FTEs) were under contract. In 2015, this figure was 31. The main reason for the increase in staff during the year was a change in the organizational structure of Solidaridad in Europe. The organization changed from a commodity-based structure to one rooted in core activities: Corporate Engagement, Policy Influencing, Fundraising, Knowledge Management & Learning, and Communications & Campaigning.

Solidaridad Europe also welcomed a new managing director in 2016: Heske Verburg. She took over the role of Nico Roozen, allowing him to concentrate fully on his position as Executive Director of the Solidaridad Network. Verburg has overall responsibility for all Solidaridad Europe’s activities and focuses on managing relations with donors, governments and companies.

Solidaridad’s main focus in Europe is to create a strong European network of companies, governments, knowledge institutions and donors. In order to enhance capacity in these core activities, senior staff have been recruited to form a new management team under the new director. A People & Operations Manager was appointed to take Solidaridad to the next level in its human resource management and operational excellence. Soldaridad’s people are a key asset.

The full annual accounts show that the total expenditure in 2016 was €17,915,549, which is almost €2,000,000 above budget because of a higher than expected income. Government subsidies in particular exceeded expectations. The 2017 budget, based on signed contracts, is €23,866,000.