Dutch ministry takes Solidaridad’s five-year funding to €80 million

16 September 2016

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given its partnership with Solidaridad a fresh boost. Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen recently signed an agreement allocating a sum of €48 million to Solidaridad’s multi-year programme “Practice for Change”. It involves a partnership with the ministry’s Directorate for Sustainable Economic Development (DDE). A contract for €32 million was also signed at end of last year for the “Advocacy for Change” programme. This brings the total amount of funding made available for direct cooperation between the ministry and Solidaridad to €80 million until 2020.

Knowledge and financial services are among the things farmers need so they can become professionals. This is a key theme of Solidaridad’s new programme “Practice for Change”.

From aid to trade

Solidaridad Director Nico Roozen said, “I am very pleased with the closer cooperation we have achieved and the financial resources that have been made available for it. In recent years, our policy and the ministry have increasingly followed parallel paths, which has allowed our collaboration to have real impact.”

The steep rise in the allocated budget is notable given the background of a sharp reduction in the size of the budget for development cooperation and the limited means that civil society organizations have. The strategic partnership with Solidaridad fits in with the ministry’s priority of putting “aid for trade” on the agenda. Since the introduction of the Max Havelaar Fairtrade label in 1988, Solidaridad has been a pioneer in reforming development policy in this respect.

Growing support for creating more sustainable markets

The support for the Max Havelaar initiative in 1987 was also the first direct funding for Solidaridad by the ministry. Pieter Bukman, Christian Democrat Minister for Development Cooperation, made 3.6 million guilders available and together with Prince Claus gave royal backing to this innovative scheme. For a long time after that, government funds were inaccessible to organizations such as Solidaridad. The four large funding support organizations (Oxfam, Cordaid, ICCO and Hivos) more or less had a monopoly on access. At that time, public funds were accessed indirectly via these organizations. Funding was secured through a partnership with ICCO.

The real breakthrough came in 2002 when Labour Minister Eveline Herfkens broadened access to the budget for civil society organizations. The doors opened wider in 2007 and 2011 as Labour and Christian Democrat ministers increased funding for Solidaridad programmes. By making the leap from €30 million to €80 million for the programmes for the coming years, Labour Minister Lilianne Ploumen has taken an important step and put Solidaridad in the leading group of strategic partnerships.