1st Max Havelaar Lecture: 'Poverty and Business'



Max Havelaar is the world’s first fair trade labeling organization. Since 1988, the Max Havelaar label has been used to communicate to consumers, efforts to improve the working conditions of farmers and traders in coffee, thee, fruit, cocoa, wine, cotton.  Max Havelaar aims at addressing poverty through entrepreneurial strategies. In 2006 Max Havelaar labels were used in around twenty countries, while the organization co-founded the international Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO).

Poverty alleviation constitutes a multi-faceted problem. It is on the one hand extremely local and leads to enormous deprivation of at least half of the world’s population. But on the other hand, it is an extremely international problem as well through the operation of global markets – in particular of resources – and the functioning of value chains. It has increasingly become acknowledged that the role of corporations and the private sector is vital for sustainable solutions to poverty. Entrepreneurial solutions are often considered preferable over the traditional approach of development aid and subsidies. Micro-credits and fair trade labels are typical examples of this new development paradigm. At the same time, however, it is clear that the involvement of private (international) corporations is far from undisputed. The claim that the profit maximization strategies of private corporations can ‘solve’ poverty requires substantial modifications. It is obvious that some strategies are more effective than other strategies. The integration of developing countries in the international supply chains of multinational corporations, therefore, can have positive, but also negative repercussions. The new development paradigm is therefore not yet established, let alone undisputed. The Max Havelaar lecture stimulates the thinking on these issues in a balanced manner, without making use of the usual simplifications either in support or against the involvement of firms in development. The Max Havelaar organization is proof of this approach: it is aiming at a continuous improvement in its strategy towards labeling products – increasingly in a variety of partnerships with NGOs, corporations and governments.

  • The Max Havelaar lecture has seven aims:
  • Provide a platform for the presentation of state-of-the-art scientific insights in how sustainable business and development cooperation can be combined
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the involvement of corporations in poverty alleviation in a systematic and non-ideological manner
  • Address the complexities of sustainable development rather than engage in simplifications on poverty, in order to come up with realistic – and obtainable – approaches to address in particular poverty (Millennium Development Goal 1)
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of  specific approaches such as trade marks, codes of conduct, reporting or governance measures
  • Provide an arena in which innovative ideas can be launched
  • Consider development as part of international value chains in which a fair distribution of income, power and knowledge is an issue that affects both developed and developing economies
  • Start a structured dialogue on shaping the preconditions for effective partnerships between public and private parties (including firms and NGOs) for development (Millenium Development Goal 8)

The lecture is planned as a recurring annual event. Each year, a leading scholar in the field will be invited to hold the lecture which will be made available to a wider audience around the world. The lecture will take about 45 minutes and will have an academic standing. It will be held at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, partly as a legacy to Jan Tinbergen the former Nobel Prize Laureate in economics and leading thinker on sustainable development. The lecture is financed by the Max Havelaar Foundation as evidence of its commitment to high quality dialogue on the most effective approaches to poverty alleviation. The lecture will be open to the public and will provide an occasion where policy makers and the scientific community can meet. It is organized in cooperation with the Erasmus Research Institute on Management  (ERIM), the Expert Centre on Sustainable Business and Development Cooperation (Ecsad), the department of Business-Society Management at RSM Erasmus University and STAR – the student association of the RSM Erasmus University.


12.45 - 13.15     

Opening Max Havelaar lezing door Coen de Ruiter, directeur van Stichting Max Havelaar, en Floortje Dessing, televisiepresentator en sociaal ondernemer
13.15 - 14.00 Professor Jeffrey Sachs van de Colombia University New York met een presentatie getiteld: 'Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: The Roles of Government, Business and Civil Society' (videoconference)Met een reactie van Professor Rob van Tulder van de RSM Erasmus Universiteit, vakgroep Business Society Management
14.00 - 14.15 Discussie
14.15 - 14.30 Peter Gortzak, voorzitter van FNV Mondiaal
14.30 - 14.45 Antony Burgmans, voormalig Chief Executive Officer van Unilever
14.45 - 14.55 Discussie
14.55 - 15.25 Alexander Rinnooy Kan, voorzitter van de Sociaal Economische Raad







Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs
Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease and hunger by the year 2015. Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty.
He is widely considered to be the leading international economic advisor of his generation. For more than 20 years Professor Sachs has been in the forefront of the challenges of economic development, poverty alleviation and enlightened globalization, promoting policies to help all parts of the world to benefit from expanding economic opportunities and well-being. He is also one of the leading voices for combining economic development with environmental sustainability, and as Director of the Earth Institute leads large-scale efforts to promote the mitigation of human-induced climate change. In 2004 and 2005 he was named by Time Magazine among the 100 most influential leaders in the world by Time Magazine.
He is author of hundreds of scholarly articles and many books, including New York Times bestseller The End of Poverty (Penguin, 2005) and has received many honorary degrees.
Prior to joining Columbia, Sachs spent over twenty years at Harvard University, most recently as Director of the Center for International Development. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard.


Stichting Max Havelaar nodigt u van harte uit voor deze lezing. U kunt zich aanmelden via www.managementweek.nl/maxhavelaar. De lezing vindt plaats in Rotterdam op de Erasmus Universiteit in de aula (complex Woudestein). Een routebeschrijving vindt u op www.rsm.nl.


Stichting Max Havelaar is de organisatie achter het bekende Max Havelaar Keurmerk, hét Keurmerk voor Fairtrade. Het Max Havelaar logo op een product (en dat kan koffie, fruit, rijst en zelfs ijs zijn) betekent dat de producerende boeren in ontwikkelingslanden een goede prijs hebben gekregen waarmee zij zich op eigen kracht kunnen ontwikkelen. www.maxhavelaar.nl

Expert Centre on Sustainable Business and Development Cooperation (ECSAD) is een samenwerkingsverband tussen Maastricht School of Management, de Amsterdam Graduate Business School van de Universiteit van Amsterdam en de Rotterdam School of Management van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam gericht op duurzaam ondernemen en duurzame ontwikkeling. www.ecsad.nl