The current Rikolto is a merger of three Belgian development organisations: Vredeseilanden, Coopibo and Fado.

In the 70s Coopibo becomes an independent, pluralist non-governmental development organisation. The NGO specialises in gender issues, smallscale farmers, and methodological guidance, in a restricted number of countries. From the 90s Coopibo focuses on sustainable agriculture in Flanders and the South.

Vredeseilanden (“islands of peace”) was founded by Father Dominique Pire, who received the Nobel Peace prize in 1958 for his work with refugees and the victims of the Second World War. Based on the idea that development is impossible without peace, Dominique Pire established the first "island of peace" in Gohira, Bangla Desh in the 60s. In the 90s Vredeseilanden becomes widely known in Flanders through the media and cultural activities.

From the 50s a number of people come together around the Belgian priest René Daem, working in Flores (Indonesia) on health care projects and the fight against poverty. The organisation "Friends of Flores" is set up. Mid 1980s the “Friends of Flores” is renamed FADO. The NGO specialises in sustainable agriculture in Southeast Asia.

During the crisis in Rwanda (1994), Vredeseilanden and Coopibo operated together in the region and in a joint campaign in Belgium. This leads, a few years later, to a merge of Vredeseilanden and Coopibo. In the year 2000 a Strategic Congress is held in Benin, results in a definition of the focus: organisational support, advocacy and alliances. One year later, Vredeseilanden and Coopibo merge with FADO.

In 2007 a new mission was defined: Vredeseilanden wants to contribute to viable livelihoods of organized family farmers in South and North through sustainable agriculture.

Since the merger, the organisation was called Vredeseilanden in Belgium. Programmes outside Belgium were run through 7 VredesEilanden Country Offices (VECO). That’s why, outside Belgium, the organisation was mainly known as VECO.

In 2016-2017 the organisation became an international network organisation. Rebranding into Rikolto was the following step.