Rabobank launches $1bn programme for food production practices

Dutch cooperative financial firm Rabobank has partnered with the UN Environment to promote sustainable food supply across the globe, starting with the launch of a $1bn fund to catalyse land restoration and forestry initiatives.

The Kickstart Food programme was launched on Monday (16 October) by the Dutch bank, which specialises in food and agricultural investments. The $1bn initiative centers on sustainable food production and is the first part of a three-year programme to boost practices covering land use, food waste, stability of supply and nutrition.

Rabobank’s chairman of the executive board Wiebe Draijer said: “Our global lead role in financing food production urges us to accelerate developments on the sustainable food supply. With our knowledge, networks and financing capabilities we aim to further motivate and facilitate clients in adopting a more sustainable food production practice globally. We are proud of this major initiative with the UN Environment. We will engage others to expand the initiative. It fits very well with our mission of Growing a better world together.” 

The food and agriculture industry loses an estimated €60bn annually, and in Europe alone, more than 250 million tonnes of food is wasted each year. With the world’s population set to increase towards nine billion, land use, climate change and availability of food are intertwining as a critical issue.

SDG alignment

In response, Rabobank is aligning its investment opportunities to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of the partnership with UN Environment, Rabobank is playing its part to increase food production by at least 60% towards 2050 while reducing the sector’s environmental footprint by 50%.

Earlier this week, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and PwC urged investors to engage with the SDGs and Rabobank is doing just that. The firm is working in Brazil to promote and finance Integrated Crop, Livestock and Forestry (ICLF) farming, which offers environmental benefits such as soil protection. Rabobank also works with the WWF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to scale land management initiatives across the globe.

The $1bn programme aims to offer grants for clients to deploy large-scale land restoration and forest protection projects, boosting their reputational profile and making it easier for them to access additional loans. All services provided by the programme are designed to be an open source platform for both stakeholders and agribusinesses to join.

Efforts to unlock finance for farming practices will be a welcome boost to the sector. Just six of the world’s largest food companies have set sustainable water-sourcing targets for the majority of their agricultural inputs, for example.

Matt Mace

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