ICCO beleidsbrochure

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CONTENTS 1. Introduction

NOTE TO THE READER: Obsolete terms We are fully aware that geographic areas in this note are indicated in antiquated

2. The world changes, development

terms. Used generic terms as the develop-

ing countries or the developed countries

cooperation renews

3. The (counter) force of civil society

have been outdated. The contradiction

4. The playing field and the players

North and South is also no longer up to

I. Civil society organizations in the South

date. Traditional demarcation lines between

II. Development organizations in the North III. Government

poor and rich countries are rapidly fading. These have become caricatures of reality. Greece (rich?) is located in the North and

IV. Companies

Brazil (poor?) in the South. Contradictions

5. Our response as civil society actor

within countries are sometimes greater

6. An appropriate response?

than between countries. Each country finds

7. Epilogue

itself in a specific phase or situation of wellbeing and development. Nonetheless, we cannot escape categorization. In this note we therefore write for convenience–until there is a better conceptual framework available-still about the North (the western,

Cover photo: Taks Force Mapalad. Hunger strike of Philippines peasants to

post-industrial countries) and the South (other countries).

claim their land rights.

COLOPHON Civil society, crucial link in international cooperation. ICCO Cooperation outlines in this note its vision on civil society, thereby contributing to the discussion in The Netherlands about the value and effectiveness of private development organizations for international cooperation. ICCO Cooperation is a non-governmental organization for international cooperation. Members of the cooperative are Edukans, coPrisma and Kerk in Actie.

PO Box 8190 3503 RD Utrecht +31 (0)30 692 78 11 info@icco.nl www.icco.nl www.icco-cooperation.org

Utrecht, May 2014

Member of the

Text: Jonathan Huseman, Machteld Ooijens and Piet Posthuma Final editing: Jaap ’t Gilde Layout: Reprovinci, Schoonhoven


Photo: Raymond Rutting. Mali

01 INTRODUCTION Compassion, justice and stewardship are the core values in the mission of ICCO Cooperation. ICCO Cooperation finds it intolerable and unacceptable that people should live in extreme poverty. Economic and political relations determine the opportunities that people have to live a good life. However, people are also resilient and take responsibility for the situation they face.

Our vision is a just world without poverty. A world where people claim and assume their rights in a sustainable society. We believe that exclusion and scarcity, created and aggravated by unequal power balances, are the main drivers of poverty.

Given the enormous economic and geo-political power changes, not only between countries and continents,

but also within sections of society, civil society needs to constantly reflect upon its own role in relation to that of others, in order to effectively contribute to empowering for change.

In this document we clarify our vision on civil society, in relation to other key players, and we outline what the implications are for ICCO Cooperation and its work.


Photo: CLEC. Cambodia 2013, demonstration to recognize the results of the elections.

02 THE WORLD CHANGES, DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION RENEWS The national and the international context in which civil society organizations (as the members of ICCO Cooperation) operate, has changed significantly since the beginning of the international development cooperation in the sixties. Traditional North-South relations have been broken down. The economic emergence of Brazil, Russia, South-Africa, India and China and other fast growing middle income countries change the international power relations.


Moreover, the power of transnational corporations is still growing, with annual budgets that are a multiple of the government budget of some countries. Governments find it hard to get them under control. At the same time, an almost unlimited belief in market solutions as panacea for problems societies are faced with, developed to the extent that governments became nearly powerless and irrelevant. Transnational corporations and the financial sector strongly profited at the cost of the resilience of societies. The recent financial crisis, for example, was no fate. And even now financial institutions like banks still find it hard to change their attitude.

The worldwide growing power of the financial markets is apparent from the fear of the governments for the ‘rating’ of their solvency. New actors are increasingly in control of the global control panel. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow. The demography of poverty has also changed. Most poor people now live in middle income countries, in so-called islands of poverty. Poverty alleviation –if ever it was - no longer is just a matter of rich, developed countries that solve the problems of poor, underdeveloped countries. Social exclusion, poverty and wealth occur in all societies. Problems as global warming and pollution, the treasure hunt for resources, terrorism and crime and especially scarcity of water, food, energy and land are transboundary issues, often impacting poor and weak people the most. Where exclusion and scarcity grow conflicts will not stay far behind. Our globalized world balances at the edge of fragility. On the other hand we may have more then ever the potential to address these problems and come up with solutions. The need for an independent and complementary role of civil society organizations is, according to

The need for an independent and complementary role of civil society organizations is increasing. our opinion, increasing. This is demonstrated by the inability of governments and the market to respond to the recent financial and economic crises, let alone the huge crises related to poverty and marginalization and the scarcity of our common goods. The need for a joint approach of governments,

market players and citizens and their civil society organizations to cope with the challenges of today is evident. Renewed attention for the commitment to the own society is therefore of great importance.

Another important development is that increasingly more citizens develop their own initiatives to express their commitment to international issues of social justice. Therefore they search for new initiatives, skeptical as they are about institutions. Companies enterprising with corporate social responsibility are also new players that become active in the area of creating social value. Increasing globalization is on the one hand embraced by the established orders that have benefitted considerably from this process until now. On the other hand it offers opportunities for global citizens. The rise of social media and mobile communication accompanies and accelerates these developments, as could be seen in the development of the citizen movements which triggered the Arab Spring in 2011. Social media connect in quick and new ways people and organizations, broaden the access to knowledge, organize opinion formation and know how to rapidly mobilize people and funds. Free access to these media is then a valuable asset to fight for globally.

Existing institutions and organizations are slow in relation to these fast media and are often focused on self-preservation, what also might give cause to criticism on these institutions. At the same time there is a growing awareness that rapid mobilization alone is not sufficient and that in order to consolidate desired changes reliable, well-functioning and service-oriented organizations and institutions play an essential role. They can prevent that the powers which focus too much on their own interest have it their own way. Finally, social organizations in developing countries have grown stronger over time. This creates new and challenging opportunities for cooperation in developing a new style.

ICCO Cooperation finds itself in the middle of these changes and finds itself supported by a strong global network of social organizations, based on years of experience, who share a positive vision and a strong confidence in the possibilities to create a fairer society; organizations effectively contribute to poverty alleviation and social improvements. They believe in the power of cooperation, often also in new and challenging relations.


Photo Marcella Bos Students of the Farm Field School, local famers and the organization SPERI started organic farming in Vietnam.

03 THE (COUNTER) FORCE OF CIVIL SOCIETY Citizens and organizations established by citizens play a vital role in society. Together they form the so-called civil society, which occupies its own position between the private domain, the state and the market. It consists of non-governmental organizations, trade unions, think tanks, churches, religious and social movements. They shape and voice the interests and values of the different groups in society on the micro, meso and macro level.


Each social organization represents a crucial part of the social capital in society. Organizations contribute individually and collectively to social cohesion and to innovative solutions for social, economic and political problems. Civil society is an important force which counterbalances the power concentration of the state and the market. A cohesive society benefits

that have led to marginalization and exclusion. Here the different interests at play between economic and political powers at the one hand and the rights and dignity of ordinary people at the other hand may often lead to shrinking operational and political space for civil society organizations.

from a politically independent civil society, which consists of organizations that derive their legitimacy from the same society.1

We believe that strong and independent civil society organizations, both in “North“ and “South”, are crucial links in international cooperation, and are indispensible for the creation of just and sustainable societies. We believe it is of utmost importance to constantly strengthen their resilience and capacities for change and adaption in order to confront the fast growing challenges in this world, together with other stakeholders.

Civil society is an important force which counterbalances the power concentration of the state and the market.

However this (counter) force of civil society organizations is both accepted and contested by other stakeholders like governments and private sector actors. It is accepted and used when civil society organizations work in line with the interests of these stakeholders (for example Busan on aid effectiveness and support of civil society organizations on strengthening corporate social responsibility. It is often contested when it confronts these stakeholders with failures and shortcomings

There is a growing pressure to transform CSO’s completely in social en economic service delivery organizations. In the long run this means the risk of the total irrelevance of civil society as an indispensible independent force for just, sustainable and resilient societies. The risk is them becoming merely extensions of political and market forces.

Societies with a weakened civil society in the long run will loose internal cohesion and resilience towards external challenges. The first to notice this will be the marginalized, powerless and poor people.

1. Civil society is not a unity. Both progressive and conservative forces play their role. In our work and in this paper we mainly focus on people and organizations that want to contribute to a fairer world without poverty.


04 THE PLAYING FIELD AND THE PLAYERS ICCO Cooperation works worldwide together with civil society, governments and companies (and to some extent academic institutions) that share our values and commit themselves to a world where people can live in well-being and dignity and justice is done to every man. Crises, both the financial and economic crises, as the crisis in the area of food, water, climate and energy underline the necessity of organized social involvement in establishing and developing a society as well as the urgency to jointly find solutions for systemic change.

governments and the market, both on national and local level. Human rights, accountability and budget monitoring are examples of important watchdog themes. Photo: PCS

The worldwide changes as described in the previous paragraphs have impacted on the role civil society organizations can play, as well as on the responsibility other players can assume. The different roles the diversity of actors can play in our view, is described in this section.

I. Civil society organizations in the South

Southern social organizations are extremely capable of determining their own role and priorities. They know what is needed for the development of the environment and for themselves. Civil organizations in the South play a major role in constructing and strengthening just and resilient societies. Firstly, they fulfill an important whistleblower function with respect to their own

ROLES OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE SOUTH • Being a whistleblower or watchdog on human rights. • Providing public services. and mobilizing governments, citizens and companies. • Creating and repairing trust and social cohesion between actors in society. • Enhancing democratic processes at grass root level. • Creating and up scaling innovative models for social and economic development.


CRITICALLY AND CONSTRUCTIVELY WORKING ON HUMAN RIGHTS An independent and professional watchdog function on human rights has led to confidence in supporters and opponents. The voice of human rights organizations counts. ICCO Cooperation’s partner organization ‘Association for the Human rights’ (APRODEH) is one of the most important NGOs in this field in Peru. APRODEH is a member of the ‘National Human Rights Coordination’ (CNDDHH) and has good international contacts, for example with the ‘Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’, APRODEH and CNDDHH played a key role in the Truth


Commission with the reconstruction of the country in 2000. APRODEH immediately comes into action if the rights of individuals are being violated. Furthermore, it works towards structural strengthening of human rights in Peru, such as compensation for victims of the armed conflict at the time of Sendero Luminoso. APRODEH also supports indigenous communities which are confronted with mining on their territory. Recently the NGO denounced the criminalization of employees of social organizations. APRODEH defends the rights of the people directly affected, defends community leaders against the criminalization of social protest, and works on dialogue mechanisms for conflict prevention. APRODEH has over the years coached many human rights lawyers, trained judges and magistrates, supported defenders of human rights and has observed the development of the democracy in the country critically and constructively. Thanks to its good name and independent position, APRODEH is an interlocutor of the government. The organization derives its power from its professionalism, its networks in society and its connections with the government and businesses.

Secondly, civil society organizations provide public services, such as education or healthcare, which is actually the responsibility of the government. Except that they fill up the gaps governments leave behind. Social organizations can (and should) mobilize the government, citizens and companies in their own country for social change. The quality and strength of social organizations ensures that they are heard. Thirdly, it is often civil society organizations that play an important role in fragile states in repairing the social cohesion. They form the foundation for restoring the trust between different parties.

Fourthly, the power of the often invisible, under the radar working, often informal, social connections should not be underestimated. The first basis is often laid at this level for democratization processes. Informal, mutual assistance within local communities is an important social value. It is also here that mutual trust, the cement of a resilient society, takes shape. Women play a very important role here.

FROM VICTIM TO DRIVING FORCE FOR RECONSTRUCTION Organizations of and for women work in the DR Congo with confidence on new perspectives after the war. SARCAF is a coalition of 37 women’s organizations in South Kivu, DR Congo. During the war, SARCAF helped victims of sexual violence. Although the war has ended, sexual violence is still commonplace. The victims are often excluded from their communities and even from their families. SARCAF fights with women against sexual violence and stigmatization. Additionally, SARCAF stimulates female leadership and supports economic activities, where women organize themselves in producer unions. This leads to more income and food security and more appreciation within their communities. Women are becoming the driving force behind the reconstruction of their communities. In 2013, in the district of Kabare, SARCAF, has succeeded in winning the heart of the Mwami, who made the commitment to involve women in the administration of his territory. In the eastern provinces of the DR Congo, Mwami are powerful traditional leaders who rule over territorial collectivities. They are officially endowed with traditional and administrative authorities and operate through a cabinet exclusively comprised of men. Following relentless lobby and advocacy endeavors and programs based on gender and leadership, which promoted the importance of the enrolment of women in the chieftaincy of the territory, SARCAF has achieved what could have been seen as a taboo some years ago in the eastern provinces.


Last but not least, local civil society organizations that are confronted with poverty and injustice often display an unparalleled resilience and are capable of working time and again in ever new, creative ways towards social and economic development, human rights and strengthening of society. What occurs locally inspires people and organizations to upscale these examples. Thus, renewal finds its way through a bottom-up approach in cooperation relations with governments, companies and knowledge organizations.

II. Development organizations in the North

Development organizations in the North function as a countervailing power towards their own governments, businesses and others that affect development processes both in their own countries as related to their impact in development countries.

Development organizations in the North play an important role in enhancing and strengthening the independent (counter) force of civil society organizations in developing countries and address the negative trends of shrinking political and operational space in these countries and worldwide. Northern development agencies support organizations that (especially in countries with a dysfunctional government), provide public services such as education or healthcare. Northern civil society organizations strengthen ‘grass roots’ initiatives. Generally, religious organizations including churches and other social organizations with which ICCO Cooperation also cooperates are a crucial link in the chain. ICCO Cooperation facilitates the connection between the most modest initiatives to the great national policy. The local social organizations are deeper instilled in the social fabric of a society than big institutional donors and governments or the northern NGOs. Moreover, they are more capable of signaling innovations, but also negative tendencies.

Photo Mark Joenje

They can do this from the inside and from the outside. Working from the inside means these organizations work together with duty bearers to change policies to improve conditions for the different target groups in developing countries. This can be done through

people. Examples of methods that can be used are demonstrations, petitions, press releases or law suits.


• Being a watchdog function and critical partner to governments and companies. • Strengthening the independent (counter) force of civil society organization. • Addressing global development issues and mobilizing global citizenship. • Creating original alternatives for solving development problems. • Contributing to government policy, international organizations and businesses. • Addressing growing poverty and exclusion. joint projects (e.g. when companies and development organizations create shared value in projects in development countries), but also in lobby strategies where there is open communication and an active search to link the interests of all stakeholders involved. Development organizations can also work from the outside and use common advocacy strategies to demand duty bearers to change. These methods are primarily used to send out information, to get a specific message across or to mobilize


LOBBY AND ADVOCACY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND BUSINESS ICCO Cooperation is actively involved in the theme “Human Rights and Business”. It translates the Ruggie principles in the business practice and helps strengthening knowledge and awareness about the relation between human rights and business. Together with SAI, ICCO Cooperation organizes trainings for private sector actors on this theme, and ICCO Cooperation organizes a yearly conference on the theme. We lobby via MVO Platform towards Dutch Parliament etc. Through its worldwide network ICCO Cooperation is connected both with strategies from the inside as from the outside. In our work we make both strategies mutually

reinforce each other. Direct actions on the ground (addressing labor conditions, environmental impacts, forced evictions of people form their land etc) by local partners also keeps us sharp when sitting at conference tables. Regardless of the functions of watchdog and supporting southern independent civil society , the social involvement in global issues such as climate change, human rights, sustainable fair trade and growing inequality within countries and in the proper society is an important task. Poverty, injustice and exclusion are political issues that can be solved by human action. Courage is required for structural social change in order to break through the status quo in power relations. Social organizations are capable of increasing the political pressure that is required for this purpose. Civil society in the North has proven its ability to present original alternatives for solving social, economic and political problems and support those of partner organizations in the South. Civil society is capable of taking risks and experimenting, even though it is not immediately clear how projects will turn out in the end. An example from ICCO Cooperation is the FairClimateFund. This is a social enterprise which sets up climate projects with poor families in developing countries. The CO2 rights from these projects are traded at a fair price. This means more income for families locally and a better health.

the footprints of poor and often southern people, the rich will have to develop mechanisms to do a step back. By buying ‘carbon credits’ they temporally buy time to do this and at the same time finance southern organizations that already effectively work on sustainable development that benefits both people and earth. The partner organization ‘Agricultural Development and Training Society’ (ADATS) constructs 18.000 biogas installations for poor families in the Chickballapur district in India. The installations produce natural gas for every day cooking, cow dung and heating. The immediate profit is less CO2 emissions, reduced fuel costs, healthier living conditions, less disposal processing costs and an enormous timesaving. An additional effect is an increase in employment for the construction and the maintenance of the installations. Households can sell CO2 credits from the CO2 savings. After repaying the investment of the installation the remaining revenue goes directly to the families.

Another example relates to the risk taking by northern civil society organizations to enhance private enterprises to further develop corporate social responsibility in their core activities, to stimulate innovative business incubation, and to broker between private enterprises and southern social and economic actors.

Courage is required for structural social change in order to break through the status quo in power relations. Photo: Haran Kumar

CLIMATE CHANGE: GLOBAL PROBLEM, LOCAL SOLUTIONS An experienced and respected local organization in India embarks on trading emission rights to fight poverty.. Whereas the carbon footprint of the rich in (mostly) northern countries strongly exceeds

Social organizations involve inspired citizens and companies in international issues such as climate change, human rights and sustainable fair trade and equal economic opportunities. Moreover, they use their ideas as inspiration. This improves global citizenship.

Social organizations in the South refer with increasingly more emphasis to the responsibilities of the rich countries: effective poverty alleviation requires a change of the consumption and production pattern of the wealthier citizens and requires a coherent foreign policy, where the left hand does not take what the right hand gives. Development


organizations in the North will become increasingly less necessary as financer; but more as equal partner with a specific objective in The Netherlands and Europe. Together with NGOs in the South they fight for fair sharing of global public goods, breaking down barriers for development and defending human rights. This means lobby and advocacy at the one hand, and at the other hand: making plans together, investing jointly in time and money and taking mutual responsibility for successes and failures.

Furthermore, developing organizations such as the members of ICCO Cooperation have a duty in The Netherlands and Europe to give constructive and sometimes critical contributions to the policy and implementation of governments, international organizations and businesses, so that marginalized groups in developing countries benefit from it and are at least not harmed by it. Additionally, various ICCO Cooperation members, especially Kerk in Actie, operate in national associations where poverty and exclusion in The Netherlands are also addressed. The ICCO Cooperation provides a suitable response to the new demography and geography of poverty and exclusion. The relation between poverty and exclusion is increasingly established both here and there. Through their grass root networks both in the North and the South different cooperative members are uniquely positioned to respond to the growing pockets of poverty and exclusion worldwide.

III. Government

A good government services society, to which it is accountable for its performance. A government creates conditions, contributes to an enabling environment, enforces legislation and guarantees basic facilities and human rights for citizens,


• Creating an enabling environment for citizens, social organizations and companies to act. • Protecting and enhancing human rights. • Enhancing just and dignified sustainable development. companies, churches and social organizations. A strong civil society that offers both solutions as well as a critical counterweight for social bottlenecks is a prerequisite for an effective government and resilient society. This applies worldwide. A good government


keeps a strong, social and democratic society actively alive. A government which deliberately weakens civil society or undermines its playing field eventually digs its own grave.

Dutch developments

The current minister Lilianne Ploumen in a letter to parliament highlighted civil society as an ‘essential partner’.2 She stresses the value of the lobby and advocacy role for civil society and its character of a watchdog, since this role is underfinanced worldwide. Based on this vision the Dutch government is currently developing a new system for financing civil society. For years the government has spent part of its budget for development cooperation on Dutch private organizations. In 2015 this unique system, called MFS, is coming to an end with the new proposed strategic partnerships. During MFS civil society organizations and governments have come closer together in recent decades and at the same time there was a relative loosening of ties with society. This is now seen as an undesirable development by both civil society organizations and the government. This so-called penetration of society by the state apparatus and the current tendency of the government to modify existing relations unilaterally at an accelerated pace are not without risk. Organizations originally established by citizens for development cooperation are increasingly less recognized and acknowledged by the citizens themselves. The ownership of the organizations has often become multifaceted, distant and diffuse, partly due to increasingly operating in a governmental environment, leaving many organizations with their backs turned on society.3 Both Civil Society and Government are looking for new ways to cooperate in a model that reflects modern developments and challenges.

The outlined development is moreover not only a characteristic of development organizations. A plethora of other Dutch civil society organizations have reached the point (after a process of penetration of society by the state apparatus) that their legitimacy should be shaped in a renewed way. This not only relates to rootedness, but also has to do with the place that those organizations are able to occupy in the versatile moral landscape and with the capacity to mobilize people and funds from there. Also increased discussions in Dutch society on the role and responsibility of organizations in a

‘participation society’4 challenge and urge civil society organizations to reflect on their position, to take new positions, to reassess their legitimacy, claiming back lost spaces, and to challenge government and private sector on the roles and responsibilities they have.

New financing model

The new architecture for the system of development cooperation does not only address the relation between the government and civil society. It mainly concerns the new agenda for fair and sustainable development worldwide. A comprehensive, coherent global agenda based on new forms of international cooperation and a corresponding funding framework.

The government recognizes the importance of citizens that organize themselves, but in its role as financer demands increasingly a strategic agreement between government and CSO, aligned with the agenda of the Dutch government. The question about independency and the balance between government and organizational responsibility remains relevant. Furthermore it is not clear how the other roles that civil society organizations play – from humanitarian organizations to social enterprises – fit this new partnership.

These strategic partnerships have some advantages over the former system, for example: it is meant to be more flexible, less bureaucratic, with more attention for innovation (for which a special fund is available), though the proof of the pudding is in the eating.5

Social organizations in the South deserve special attention in this announced new system. The new system will offer participation to these organizations. However, the precarious position in which local

social organizations often find themselves should also be taken into account. The power of local organizations is to work towards sufficient participation of all citizens and broadening the democratic space

The relation between the Dutch government and civil society benefits from equality and mutual recognition that each plays its own important role. from a political independent role. Local national governments may not always want to provide this space. Here lies, as said before, an important task for the local and international civil society. A strong social involvement is of major importance regarding sensitive issues as democratization, conflict transformation, human rights and extractive industries, where local organizations are often limited by their own government in their scope for action. International social organizations can more easily support this work than governments and embassies which have to take the allegations of foreign interference into account. Here the complementarity between Dutch social organizations and the Dutch government is apparent. The relation between the Dutch government and civil society benefits from equality and mutual recognition that each plays its own important role.

Cooperation remains desirable, but is not always obvious. The government should accept the possible consequences of a more autonomous or even more critical treatment. The Dutch government finances the Dutch civil society,

2 “Civil society organizations function as an intermediate between government, individual civilians and the market. They have an autonomous position and together with other civil actors they create a vital civil society.” 3 This development can also be described using the partnership paradox, formulated by Willem Elbers, in which dominant management thinking has obstructed the mission, vision and values of development organizations (Elbers 2012: “The Partnership Paradox: Principles and Practices in North-South NGO Relations”. PhD thesis) 4

The Participation Society is introduced by Dutch Government as a response to experimented financial and social shortcomings of the “Verzorgingsstaat” (Welfare State) model. Different (political) worldviews give different accents to this participation society, as the concept is still very young. Basically the government gives back to other stakeholders and individuals in society roles and responsibilities they no longer can afford or want to assume as government. ICCO Cooperation is open for these changes but at the same time will continue to keep government, private sector and other civil society actors (including itself) accountable for the responsibilities related to the roles given to them as duty bearers or assumed by themselves as active citizens.


At the time of writing the exact outcome of the strategic partnerships is not clear.


but should not aim for subcontractor ship. The organizations strategically consider when cooperation is appropriate or not and accept that funding is not self-evident.

In its contacts with the government ICCO Cooperation aims at cooperation based on its own values and strategies. We strongly believe the independent role of civil society to be a fundamental asset for sustainable change both parties hope to establish. Our actions emerge from practice and not from predefined roles. We are able to combine watchdog activities with co-creation activities, we hold duty bearers accountable and we hope to be held accountable by those for and with whom we aim to work. With our local presence and networks ICCO Cooperation can elaborate different kind of partnerships.

IV. Companies Private sector companies more and more are becoming relevant stakeholders in development cooperation. Ecological and social sustainability and social value creation is high on the agenda of private sector actors. Their ecological footprint, their roles in social development (job creation, income stability, society development etc) is of major concern for private sector actors that make work of their responsibilities for just and sustainable societies. Worldwide the attention for human rights and Business (Ruggie, OECD, United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights (UNGP)) is growing.

ROLES OF PRIVATE SECTOR • Creating social and economic sustainable development. • Respecting and enhancing human rights. • Working with civil society organizations on social and economic development.

Through their position and their way of working private sector companies are able to take enormous steps towards sustainable social value creation and can have an enormous impact on poverty alleviation.


Whereas the private sector is changing, civil society actors have to change with them. New models of cooperation and new power balances evolve. Mutual respect is growing, based on the acceptance of differences in roles and positions. At the same time the experience is that in the actual world unbalances within power relations can still play a dominant role in the insufficient development of these roles, and in the creation of unsustainable mechanisms of profit accumulation. It is this unbalance that still leads to ecological exhaustion, marginalization and even complete exclusion of people causing insecurity and conflicts. In our definition, growth only comes with increased justice. Especially preoccupying remains the uncontested power of multinationals and financial institutes that rule the world. The multiple examples of their often detrimental behavior towards the earth and small people still put their experimenting in the field of social value creation in a lot of cases overwhelmingly in the shadow. Where resilient power balances between governments, civil society and market forces are weak or absent, opportunities to direct profit creation towards social value creation may easily be neglected. Cooperation between civil society organizations and private sector is based on the recognition of the tension between profit creation and social value creation within private companies and the ambition of civil society actors to enhance and influence the business strategy of private companies towards social value creation.

Thanks to this development mutual respect for each other’s contribution in development processes is growing. Companies are decisive, possess capital and focus on innovation. Social organizations know how to link these characteristics to social objectives, networks of creative organizations and innovative ‘grass-roots processes’. Thus, together they create social value. Cooperation with companies connects and also broadens the relation between producers in the South and consumers in the North. Producers have access to more international markets and can scale up their revenue. Consumers get a larger supply of sustainably produced fair trade products and can give a concrete interpretation to global citizenship.

Photo Ivan Greco. Stevia is a Paraguayan plant that is becoming a native consumer product ingredient worldwide.

ICCO COOPERATION’S APPROACH ON PRIVATE SECTOR ENGAGEMENT ICCO Cooperation has gained a lot of experience in the past twenty years in more than twenty countries in the area of fair economic development, resulting in the emergence of 42 partnerships with local and international companies. As is stated in our MASP Strategy 2020 we will work towards a more inclusive economy and financial system that addresses people’s needs. In this way individuals will gain control, encouraging participation and responsibility in bringing about sustainable growth. ‘Growth’ as such needs to be redefined, giving less primacy to ‘quantity’ and more to ‘quality’. In our definition, growth only comes with increasing justice.6 So, ICCO Cooperation opts for sustainable ‘inclusive value chains’ from the perspective and the importance of small producers. ICCO focuses here on access to chains, fair trade conditions, sustainable production and improving quality, so that small producers can generate a better income. Support varies per situation. Support may imply enhancing the organization of small producers or strengthening the supportive institutional field such as strengthening microcredit


organizations and other service providing organizations, often in cooperation with Oikocredit. Furthermore, ICCO Cooperation offers guarantees, loans and participations itself and it experiments with new forms of strategic financing. ICCO Cooperation works locally on strengthening the local markets and internationally on preserving different ‘value chains’ of international operating companies such as Albert Heijn and H&M, that opt for corporate social responsibility and strengthening the social value of their activities. ICCO Cooperation’s attitude is proactive, It addresses human rights in value chains and helps companies where needed to safeguard the human rights situation in these chains. In The Netherlands ICCO Cooperation participates in networks as IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative), strategic partner BoP Innovation Center and AIM (Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition) that establish the link with companies between economic and social development. Moreover, ICCO Cooperation also invests in one on one relations with entrepreneurs who see opportunities with entrepreneurs in developing countries. This takes shape in concepts as ‘co-creation’ or ‘co-investment’, where new products or services are developed that contribute to achieving more social impact

Towards a Just and Dignified World, Strategy 2020, November 2013


Photo ICCO Cooperation. Coffee farmers in Guatemala.

05 OUR RESPONSE AS CIVIL SOCIETY ACTOR A lot of poverty and injustice has been battled successfully by the members of the cooperative in the past five decades. However, over one billion people worldwide still live below the poverty line. ICCO Cooperation therefore continues unabated to fulfill its mission. We innovate and update within The Netherlands our position between citizens, government and market and we are working in The Netherlands and internationally on innovative models of cooperation. We have renewed our approach methodologically and we have also focused our programs thematically in the belief that the results will improve.


Organizational changes since 2006 In 2006, we opened up for influence for ‘southern’ stakeholders by decentralizing our organization, organizing co-responsibility and adopting a programmatic approach. Seven Regional Offices were opened in Asia, Latin America and Africa. These offices have become important assets through which we have direct access to local know-how, networks and infrastructure. Co-responsibility has been maximized through a change in our governance structure: the Regional Councils participate in all strategic decisions and they advise our Regional Offices. The establishment in November 2012 of ICCO Cooperation as a cooperative – unique among Dutch NGOs - was our next answer to the changes in the world. The founding members of the cooperative are

TOWARDS A JUST AND DIGNIFIED WORLD; ICCO COOPERATION STRATEGIC FOCUS TOWARDS 2020 We have strategically organized our work around two twin core principles, which we see as fundamental: Securing Sustainable Livelihoods and Justice & Dignity for All. Why twin? Because a livelihood without rights is not sustainable and because dignity only comes with a livelihood in which rights are respected. The full potential of people can be realized only when justice and dignity are achieved. By protecting the rights of people, they are at the same time empowered to create their own livelihoods.

Edukans, coPrisma and Kerk in Actie. The cooperative model reflects both the ambitions of our members and constituencies in the Netherlands and of our international organization. It also underlines our vision on change: change processes are driven by local ownership and responsibility of people and groups. The added value of our cooperative is found in increasing efficiency through sharing services and expertise, as well as greater program effectiveness through knowledge exchange and intervention coordination. We welcome warmly new members from ‘the North’ and ‘the South. The new cooperative structure requires us to, next to our traditional grant-based activities, focus on investment-based solutions. The cooperative structure is ideally suited for working collaboratively and for achieving change at different levels. We have made our strategies explicit in the document ‘Towards a Just and Dignified World’ The roles that the ICCO Cooperation plays change. In some cases, we will become a co-implementer of programs funded by donors. In other cases, we will be co-creator, co-investor, linking our resources to those of others in a mutually created change process. Organizations in the South are brought into contact with other actors in developing processes. New models of development will be experimented, including innovative models for business development The ICCO Cooperation strengthens forums at the national and local level, where experiences are exchanged and social organizations join forces in their fight against poverty and injustice. By assuming these different roles, we expect to optimally support the worldwide strengthening of the power of civil society.




nc yp re pa r Far an edn m agr d r ess ibu ing fo sine eli cus ef ss, c : foo lim d ate secu r mit igat ity, ion Econo mic connec ting po empowerm en or to va lue chai t: ns


Our working style:

‘down to earth’, enterprising, innovative

Our roles:

broker, facilitator, co-implementer, strategic financer, lobbyist

JUSTICE & DIGNITY FOR ALL Right socia s to politic parti l and eco al, n cipa tion omic Rig h res ts to n our a t ur ces Ri and al lan to ghts d sk an ills d a an cc d h ess ea lth


06 AN APPROPRATE RESPONSE? Members of ICCO Cooperation have always fully anticipated social developments in order to keep the international cooperative as effective as possible. The new cooperative structure is open for: • northern and southern partners; • southern co-responsibility in development work; • a holistic programmatic approach based on two twin core principles; • work with different kind of stakeholders; • new roles and a blending of different (financial) instruments.

This, combined with a strong vision on strengths of autonomous civil society organizations prepares ICCO Cooperation optimally for the actual and future challenges in international cooperation.

quote: It is now important to further firmly strengthen the ties again with our environment and work towards

a further enhancement of our social legitimacy. It is now important to further firmly strengthen the ties with our environment and work towards a further enhancement of our social legitimacy. The joint investment in developing countries with businesses, governments and citizens worldwide is thereby the indicated instrument. ICCO Cooperation however is not the end point of change. As organization we stand in a tradition that is aware of the need to always reform itself in response to changes in the surrounding world. We will continue to change not for the sake of change but to keep our values and vision actualized in strategies to create societies where people can live in dignity and wellbeing. An appropriate response? Yes. For the time being.

07 EPILOGUE The world changes. Power balances between civil society, private sector and government actors’ change. New roles and new and innovative relationships develop. Chances are taken. Challenges addressed and problems solved through new partnerships that before seemed impossible. At the same time the world is faced with new and very preoccupying new problems. Our human societies –if ever they could- can’t afford to go on living from (natural) exploitation, marginalization and exclusion of people, they can’t continue to accept the rapidly growing gaps between


rich and poor. Our globalized world seems strong, but fragility and conflicts threaten the heart of our systems.

An independent, strong and vibrant civil society is needed more than ever. Working with other stakeholders in the government and private sector is vital. Mutual respect of each others position and roles must be the base of all cooperation. Political and operational space for civil society organizations is at the core of healthy and resilient human societies.

Photo: ICCO Cooperation


ICCO COOPERATION Joseph Haydnlaan 2a P.O. Box 8190 3503 RD Utrecht The Netherlands tel (030) 6927811 icco-cooperation.org icco.nl

Member of the