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Who we are

Micro hydro Sumba

Hivos was founded in 1968, inspired by humanist values. Our founders held the conviction that development work should be secular, as true cooperation presumes respect for differing beliefs. In our first ever brochure, our founders wrote that “necessary changes should spring from communities themselves – from people at the base of society.” These convictions are still reflected in our work.

We believe that human life in its many forms is valuable, and that people are filled with potential. Living a life in freedom and dignity, with respect for each other and the planet, leads to greater individual well-being and fair, vibrant societies.

What we strive for

The 21st century has witnessed many positive developments that hold hope for the near future. Formal democracy has spread during the past few decades. Absolute poverty and mortality rates are on the decline. A new group of emerging economies is on the rise, and new technologies promote economic development, and boost international civic activism and innovative solutions.

Progress is, however, unequal and has come at a high cost. Economic gains are unevenly spread across countries, classes, sexes, and age groups. The current globalized system and its increasing inequalities, resources depletion, global warming, and governance failure are not sustainable in the long run.

The depletion of natural resources, loss of crop diversity, and climate change pose major consequences for us all, especially the most vulnerable people in the world. The current 
pace of exploitation of natural resources tells us clearly that our planet simply cannot sustain the current rapid rate of population growth. Many feel that they are the losers of globalization, fueling nationalist and populist movements that fulminate against external influences or outsiders – especially migrants, (sexual) minorities activists, and non-governmental organizations. Freedom of expression, assembly and association are under threat in nearly half the world’s states. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is increasing.

As a consequence of all this, tens of millions of people are on the move, fleeing the effects of climate change and human rights violations.

Our values

We only have one planet. It offers vast riches, but they are not limitless and are already seriously degraded.The depletion of natural resources, loss of crop diversity, and climate change pose major consequences for us all, especially the most vulnerable people in the world.

For current and future generations to be able to prosper, sustainable use of the earth’s resources is paramount. This implies moving beyond merely reducing our negative environmental impact by actively restoring what has been degraded and favouring biodiversity.

Our vision

We believe that every human being has the right to live in freedom and dignity, and that we are all free to be who we are, with respect for our individual gender and sexual identity. Living such a life means feeling free to believe and say what you want, to challenge governments and influence the established order. In exercising that freedom, we also carry the responsibility of not impinging on the freedom of others, and of respecting the natural limitations of the earth.

We believe in open societies, in which freedom and diversity are valued individually and collectively. Such a society welcomes diversity and offers equal opportunities to all. We also believe in green societies, in which the environment and the planet’s natural resources are protected and used sustainably to the benefit of every living creature on the planet. Open and green societies are interwoven: together they create a free, fair and sustainable world. 

Our mission

Based on a track record of 50 years of partnering with frontrunners in daring, innovative and impactful development programs, Hivos seeks new and creative solutions to persistent global problems; solutions created by people taking their lives into their own hands.

We offer a positive counterbalancing force against discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. Our mission is to innovate for social change. With smart projects in the right places, we work towards more open and green societies.


Visit the Hivos website for more information.