Europe

Solidaridad was founded in 1969 in the Netherlands, and has since evolved into a leader of global sustainability initiatives. We engage European market actors, including corporations and governments, to commit to fair and sustainable value chains, contributing to an economy that works for all.
‘Not just due diligence’: Solidaridad accelerates debate on need for sustainability regulations Read featured story

Where We Work

Solidaridad’s Europe office generates support and commitments for making international value chains more sustainable, with a focus on improving livelihoods of farmers, miners and workers around the world. With offices in the Netherlands and Germany, representation in the UK, and partnerships in various European countries, there are ample opportunities to influence corporations, governments and citizens to take up and commit to more sustainable practices.

16

policy recommendations created in 2019

66

companies procuring more sustainably in 2019

44

partnerships maintained with European corporations

Challenges

Excess extraction

European market actors extract too much value from remote communities and ecosystems. As a result, many farmers, workers and miners live in poverty, while our biosphere and atmosphere are degrading rapidly. Only when European market actors commit to sustainability, and are ready to pay for it, can we facilitate the transition to an economy that works for everyone and safeguards the planet for future generations.

There’s increasing political momentum in Europe for regulatory frameworks promoting sustainable production. As part of the EU’s Green Deal, which seeks to make the EU economy sustainable, the European Commission is preparing legislation requiring that EU companies conduct due diligence throughout their international supply chains to ensure respect for human rights and the environment.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown all too clearly how unequal our global economy is. European economic priorities are centered in the region itself, often lacking conversation around the interconnectedness of the global supply chain. Many products sold here are grown, made or mined far away by people who are vulnerable to poverty. In particular, female factory workers, farmers and small-scale miners are severely affected.

Voluntary sustainability initiatives haven’t led to sufficient impact. Supply chains are still troubled by deforestation, unsustainable practices, and underpaid farmers and workers. We need a smart mix of measures – mandatory frameworks, voluntary initiatives, supporting policies — to ensure all products sold at the European market are produced in a sustainable way.

Climate change is the major challenge of our time. Despite governments and companies increasingly committing to fighting climate change and allocating resources in their policies, mitigation strategies and climate financing still fall behind. Meanwhile, the producers (farmers, workers, miners) are often the ones who suffer most from the impact of climate change.

Solutions

Creating meaningful connections

Tackling supply chain inequity requires a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder approach. Through advocacy, media engagement, working in partnership with companies, and fundraising, Solidaridad is creating a supportive environment for meaningful policy changes and programme implementation around the world.

Regulatory frameworks and sustainability policies are essential to ensure that products sold at the European market are produced in a sustainable way. We continuously work on establishing and maintaining cooperation with public and private sector decision makers to foster our advocacy efforts in this area.

The private sector is pivotal in enabling sustainable production, trade and investments as well as stimulating demand for sustainably-produced products. Companies are increasingly pledging to invest in good production practices, though implementation is variable. Solidaridad is a constructive yet critical partner, calling on companies to make and live up to sustainability promises, and to adopt new inclusive business models.

We work in partnership with corporations to encourage  them to make genuine choices in favour of sustainability, implementing sustainability policies and embracing new inclusive business models.

We activate European citizens and consumers to raise their voices for a more sustainable and inclusive economy. We encourage them to demand that companies and governments ensure that goods are produced in a sustainable and responsible way.

We are a trusted partner to our donors and supporters. We work to ensure a growing and diversified stream of funding for the continued implementation of our global programmes. We engage with donors across Europe and at the European Union level.

In Europe Solidaridad actively contributes to innovative solutions, promoting transparency and traceability in global supply chains. By providing verified farmer data, we create transparency, leading to a fairer value distribution. We promote innovative inclusive business models with increased farmer ownership for truly sustainable sourcing, production, trade and investment.

Inclusive practices and policies are essential in reclaiming sustainability as a practice that benefits all equally, and creates lasting, positive change.  This means that the role of, and impact on, women, youth, minority groups, and people with disabilities, among others, are taken into account.

Achievements

Campaigning for a living income for farmers and workers

Public awareness of the importance of a living income for smallholder farmers and workers grew in 2019. Our pop-up store in Amsterdam in November — as part of our anti-Black Friday campaign — exposed the low prices farmers receive for their products and drew significant media attention. Solidaridad played an active role in the conversation on how to achieve living incomes for people at the beginning of supply chains. We advocated for more sustainable public and private policies, and crafted meaningful initiatives with corporate partners. Solidaridad also celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019, with an international conference about sustainable development, attended by our partners from various regions.

Working towards long-term, sector-wide impact

We continued to work towards long-term, sector-wide impact across a range of commodities in far-reaching partnerships with, among other companies, Henkel and Syngenta. While the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Postcode Lottery remained primary donors, Solidaridad broadened its donor base further.

Strengthening our value proposition to European partners

In 2017, we continued to work on strengthening our value proposition towards our European partners, including companies, policy makers, donors, knowledge partners as well as the media, and consumers in the Netherlands. In the autumn of 2017, we launched a coffee campaign for the Dutch market to increase awareness about the persistent negative impact of climate change on the production of coffee and the livelihoods of the coffee farmers. Our campaign gained visibility in the Dutch media thanks to the campaign video and the ‘No Coffee’ Bar concept.

Solidaridad’s Farmer Support Programme gives new boost for further resources

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.

A woman spreads a sacrifice over a coffee plant. A ceremony held three times a year to pray for the best conditions for growing coffee plants. © Olaf Hammelburg.

Towards a new strategy to tackle big global problems

In 2015, Europe was dealing with tough issues like the debt crisis, refugees, terrorism and weak economic growth. Public support for international collaboration and foreign aid was under pressure. In the corporate world, the Volkswagen scandal damaged public trust in how industry adheres to the law. Solidaridad’s answer to these growing populist and nationalist sentiments was clearly described in Solidaridad’s new multi-annual strategy. To solve the big global issues of the next generation, we need more international collaboration, institutional reforms and good governance.

In Europe, we partner with hundreds of players across global value chains, from corporations to knowledge institutes and civil society organizations. Find out what we can achieve together.

Get in touch

Want to know more about our work in Europe? Get in touch with our team.


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‘t Goylaan 15 
3525 AA Utrecht
The Netherlands
+31 (0)30 272 0313
info@solidaridad.nl

Heske Verburg
Managing Director
heske.verburg@solidaridadnetwork.org

Suzanne Larsson
Head of Corporate Engagement & Partnerships
suzanne.larsson@solidaridadnetwork.org

Melanie Rutten-Sülz
Country Representative, Solidaridad Germany
melanie.rutten-suelz@solidaridadnetwork.org

Europe supervisory board

Our board members are (left to right): Carlos Alva Nieto, Claire Gentil, Jan Karel Mak (chairperson), Katrien Termeer, Marion Kappeyne van de Coppello, Martin Staehle. Kajsa Johansson is not present in the photo.

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