Reclaim Sustainability!

Solidaridad, Fairfood, TrustAfrica and Business Watch Indonesia (BWI) are working together in our joint programme: RECLAIM Sustainability! This five-year programme (2021-2025) is implemented in strategic partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Together with our partners, we strive to foster genuine and inclusive sustainability in global value chains, where the voices of farmers, miners, workers and citizens are well represented in decision making, and civil society is strengthened. Gender and social inclusion are an integral part of our programming and envisioned impact.

WHERE WE WORK

The RECLAIM Sustainability! programme (2021-2025) with Fairfood, TrustAfrica and Business Watch Indonesia is implemented in the following countries: Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, and the Netherlands (in the larger European context). The programme is active in the commodities: cocoa, coffee, tea, palm oil, cotton & textiles, and gold; with a special focus on the local food systems in Africa.

By 2025, we strive to achieve:

35

inclusive regulatory frameworks developed, improved and implemented in 14 countries

100

local multi-stakeholder dialogues initiated and strengthened to engage civil society

200

civil society organizations in 17 countries with increased technical, operational and negotiation skills

Challenges

Voices of farmers, miners and workers are not heard

There can be no genuine sustainability when the people who produce the products consumed by us all continue living in poverty; when natural resources are not managed sustainably; civic space in many countries is limited, and the working conditions of millions of producers are abject. Farmers, miners and workers are key players in tackling major challenges such as poverty and climate change, yet their voices are often unheard. The global Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation of millions of people worldwide, and in particular those who were in a vulnerable position to begin with.

Civic space remains confined or is even shrinking in many regions worldwide, including countries where our programmes are taking place. This negative trend is highly likely to halt or reverse the progress towards reducing inequality, ensuring inclusion and improving sustainability, because it is often precisely those at greatest risk whom civil society seeks to empower and protect. Improving the positions of farmers, miners and workers in the value chains is imperative for increasing the civic space and enabling these groups to bargain for better prices and working conditions, and to influence equitable access to and sustainable use of natural resources.

Solutions

Systemic change towards genuine sustainability

Systemic change is required to reclaim the essence of sustainability and to eradicate poverty in all its forms. This means a radical re-balancing of power and genuine transformation that benefits the farmers, workers and miners at the beginning of the value chains, rather than superficial policies labeled as ‘sustainability.’

Reclaiming sustainability requires commitment by a supportive public sector, a responsible private sector, and a vibrant and strong civil society. This is needed to promote transnational solidarity and contribute to an inclusive and sustainable economy, with prosperity and inclusion for all, as well as healthier ecosystems. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a negative impact on millions of people worldwide, the need for systemic change and to ‘Build Back Better’ is more urgent now than ever.

We aim to accelerate innovative solutions that amplify the voices of smallholders, thus fostering the sustainable use of natural resources, decent work, fair value distribution, and sustainable consumption. This also involves optimizing the bargaining position of farmers and workers in the supply chain through supply chain innovations, e.g. digital tools and new ownership models, with a focus on gender and social inclusion.

One of our strategies is influencing the policy agenda and developing evidence-based solutions to address socio-economic and environmental shortcomings in trade and value chains. With our lobby & advocacy work and the capacity strengthening of civil society groups we ultimately want to attain systemic change to enable farmers, miners and workers (with a particular focus on women, youth, migrants, and other marginalized groups) to significantly improve their socio-economic situations and raise their standards of living.

Farmers, miners and workers should have a position of equal bargaining power where they can negotiate fair prices for their goods, bringing more control over the course of their lives as opposed to vested commercial interests and conflicting government priorities sealing their fate from the get go. They should have a say in the political arena as well, and truly participate and benefit from policies and decisions that affect their lives.

This part of our strategy involves mobilizing, activating and engaging citizens and civil society organizations to change norms and influence the policy agenda regarding unfair value distribution, natural resource management and decent work in international value chains. To inform and activate citizens, we will continue to tell the true story behind consumer products, for example, via various campaigns, petitions, and events, as well as supporting petitions and initiatives by other CSOs. Furthermore, we will work closely with various stakeholders in our focus regions to ensure their strengthened positions in the value chain and civic space.

We must adopt comprehensive policies and innovative business models for truly sustainable sourcing, production, trade and investment. We see real opportunities for a strong business case for companies to support a healthy, inclusive and vibrant civic environment. Both civil society and business need the same sort of environment in which to thrive. Successful business depends on open, rights-respecting societies, and the upholding of the rule of law. 

In addition, socially responsible companies are also more widely well regarded by both customers and employees, giving them a competitive edge over companies lagging behind. Luckily, there are companies that realize and value that they can play a positive role, and several of them are doing so as frontrunners. These types of frontrunner companies will be key allies for our programme to illustrate what’s possible and set an example for others.

We must: 1) Engage and debate with public and private decision makers; 2) Hold decision makers accountable; 3) Monitor implementation and enforcement of policies and mechanisms; 4) Safeguard gender and social inclusiveness; 5) Demand and consume sustainable products.

Moreover, it is imperative to increase the civic space around the world, enabling the farmers, miners and workers to improve their situation. To do this, we must increase their power to change things (i.e. self-agency) and relieve their poverty. Inclusive sustainable value chains and trade means an enabling civic space that sets the right conditions for a clear win for farmers, miners and workers.

We must adopt comprehensive norms and regulatory frameworks that ensure sustainable production, trade and consumption. Our consortium thus advocates to influence the agenda of the stakeholders holding important power in policy and decision making. For instance, we work closely with the European Union, and the governments of the Netherlands and Germany to ensure the adoption of (mandatory) regulatory frameworks that support private sector transparency and fair value distribution. A smart mix of measures is absolutely necessary to achieve a supportive public sector, that is, regulation at EU level that would require intergovernmental partnerships, measures to support farmers in the Global South, and mandatory due diligence from businesses.

We will apply a transformative gender and social inclusion approach in our programming to challenge the underlying causes of social exclusion and gender inequality, such as norms, relations and institutional structures that perpetuate discrimination and power imbalances. Fostering gender equality and social inclusion is vital for a sustainable society, where all population groups, including women, youth, and indigenous groups, across supply chains are enabled to empower themselves.

The RECLAIM Sustainability! Theory of Change, including the three impact pathways: accelerate disruptive innovations, advocate through inclusive dialogue, and amplify the voice of citizenry.
Ours is a truly global consortium of partners. Find out what we can achieve together.
RECLAIM Sustainability! partners

Interested to partner with us, or would like to know more about our programme? Get in touch with us:

I'd like to contact someone from

Heske Verburg

Heske Verburg

Managing Director, Solidaridad Europe

heske.verburg@solidaridadnetwork.org

Rachel Wanyoike

Managing Director, Solidaridad East and Central Africa

rachel.wanyoike@solidaridadnetwork.org

Sander de Jong

Managing Director, Fairfood

sander@fairfood.org

Isaac Gyamfi

Regional Director, Solidaridad West Africa

isaac.gyamfi@solidaridadnetwork.org

Ebrima Sall

Executive Director, TrustAfrica

sall@trustafrica.org