Nico Roozen receives honorary doctorate degree from Indonesian university ULM

Solidaridad’s honorary president, Nico Roozen has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree as a pioneer in the international fair trade movement by the University of Lambung Mangkurat (ULM), Indonesia. The university acknowledged the former chief executive’s visionary thinking that has brought hundreds of thousands of producers out of poverty while developing sustainable supply chains.

On Tuesday 18 June Nico Roozen attended an acceptance ceremony at the University of Lambung Mangkurat (ULM) in Banjarmasin, Indonesia. There he was presented an honorary doctorate degree in the field of agricultural in the speciality of development of natural resources and environment by Rector Sutarto Hadi. The university chose to grant Nico this award in light of his outstanding contribution to building more equitable international cooperation while protecting natural and environmental resources.

When presenting Nico with his award, Rector Sutarto Hadi from the University of Lambung Mangkurat said: “Historically, producers in developing countries like Indonesia, who work hard to produce items that we need in everyday life, do not get paid enough to support their families and afford food, education, and health care. Mr. Nico Roozen singlehandedly created the concept of Max Havelaar, globally known nowadays as the Fair Trade concept, that ensures a fair price for the producers but also improves their skills and creates a secure and sustainable livelihood for future generations.” 

His vision, implemented by Solidaridad today, is liberating small farmers and workers out of poverty in Indonesia and many other parts of the world.

Nico Roozen receives honorary degree from ULM Rector Sutarto Hadi 


Nico said: “I am extremely honoured to be receiving such a prestigious award of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Lambung Mangkurat, Banjarmasin. I believe that this award belongs not to me personally, but to our Solidaridad colleagues."

The award belongs to the success that Solidaridad has achieved in Asia in less than ten years, powered by the strengths and skills of 320 local staff. And so, on their behalf, I humbly accept the award and express my gratitude.

Max Havelaar

Rector Sutarto Hadi referred to Solidaridad’s honorary president as Nico ‘Max Havelaar’ Roozen, acknowledging his close involvement with, and naming of, Solidaridad’s first fair trade initiative.

In response, Nico said: “Indeed in 1988 I consciously chose to use the title of Multatuli’s famous book as the name of the first fair trade label in the world market." 

As a genuine protest against colonial exploitation, Max Havelaar inspired me to reinvent trade as a source of equal distribution of wealth.

He concluded: “Max Havelaar reconciles the positive forces among the people of Indonesia and the Netherlands to learn from our history and to reinvent the future.” 

Looking ahead

In acknowledgement of ULM’s 32,000 students from across Indonesia, as well as South Korea, the Philippines,Turkmenistan and Australia, Nico highlighted the important role of young people today: “The power of youth is the most significant wealth for the entire world. No segment in society can match the energy, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of young people."

With 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, young people around the world are the critical drivers for addressing present, and future sustainability challenges our world faces today. A proper response to youth challenges needs the involvement of young people themselves in decision-making and political leadership.

He continued: “I am glad that the Solidaridad Asia team is in advanced discussions about exposing ULM students to our different projects […]. It will help the students to contribute to their own society’s development while learning at ULM. It will develop their leadership skills and broaden their horizons and understanding of development cooperation, and in particular, sustainable development, including wetland development.

Rector Sutarto Hadi said: “We hope that [Nico] may share his thoughts, expertise and experiences with ULM students and young scholars, and from ULM a new generation of Max Havelaar will be born”.  

Read about Solidaridad’s projects in Asia