Jeroen joined Solidaridad as campaign officer in 1992. With a background in theology and cultural anthropology, he felt deeply connected to the ideas of liberation theology, Latin America and Solidaridad’s mission. In his early years, Jeroen was responsible for some of the organization’s key successes. He supported various national campaigns to promote a more just and fair global economy and played a key role in the establishment of Oké and Eko-Oké bananas, as well as the development of more sustainable cotton and fashion brands.
Jeroen Douglas in his early days, with colleague Jeroen Kroezen, working on the launch of a fair-trade banana brand.
Since then, he has been a leading force in Solidaridad. First as director for Solidaridad in Latin America, a role in which he managed finance, governance, partnerships, advocacy and fundraising in the region. Jeroen was a key player in the development of global sustainability roundtables for sugar, soy and beef for which he served as president and vice-president. He went on to help to restructure Solidaridad into a global network organization, setting up additional centres in eight regions across Africa, Asia and North America. He also drove the development of Solidaridad’s 2016-2020 strategy and was – as director policy and programmes – responsible for network-wide policy and related programme implementations.
He continues to be a strong advocate of a more data-driven approach within Solidaridad, and making use of opportunities that digitalization offers for more sustainable production. During his acceptance speech at Solidaridad’s 50 years’ celebration event, Jeroen emphasized the need to move towards ‘fair data’, based on the principle that the one who produces the data should be the owner of its value. Another strategic question for him in the coming period is how Solidaridad, together with farmers, can better serve the regional markets in light of mega cities’ booming populations. He said: “Young farmers see opportunities to provide healthy and sustainable food as a supplement to more traditional export chains. After all, migration is mainly urbanization.” With this, he made a strong statement for the importance of farmers:
Farmers are the main actors of a sustainable society.
He also made a link to a figure who inspired him early on – Gustavo Gutierrez – who gives three definitions of poverty. Jeroen said:
Becoming executive director is reaching a full circle to me. Fifty years on, our focus still lies on fighting poverty. Economic poverty – not having a living income; social poverty – insufficient access to public services; ecological poverty and our inability to build resilience against climate change; political poverty and the dominance of big data companies taking over our civic space.
Nico Roozen continues as honorary president
When Nico Roozen officially handed over his title he expressed his heartfelt support to the appointment of Jeroen:
I handover my duties with full confidence – Solidaridad is ready for change – and with full trust.
Nico Roozen hands over to Jeroen Douglas
Nico Roozen will stay closely connected to the organization. He has been appointed as honorary president. In this position he will have an advisory role.
For more information about Jeroen Douglas, please follow him on LinkedIn