The world’s largest food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank, has announced a USD $1bn programme to start land restoration and forest protection initiatives.
The three-year Kickstart Food project will see the financial co-operative work with UN Environment, focusing on four key areas: Earth, Waste, Stability and Nutrition. The fund forms part of the first area, Earth, and aims to promote sustainably and environmentally sound food production.
Rabobank says the project demonstrates its commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – an agenda which touches on the decline in available arable land and the impact of agriculture on climate change and the environment.
By 2050 the global population is expected to grow to nine billion, and the UN believes farmers must produce 60% more food by that time to feed the world. Rabobank’s programme aims to contribute to this goal while helping to reduce the sector’s footprint by 50%.
The co-op bank is promoting sustainability certification for its clients and advising them on sustainable production methods and spoil management. Through the project, Rabobank, along with UN Environment, will offer grants and enable clients to initiate large-scale land restoration and forest protection projects. The measure seeks to affect their risk profile and help them gain easier access to loans.
Rabobank has been doing similar work in Brazil where it has been promoting and financing Integrated Crop, Livestock and Forestry (ICLF) farming.
The co-op bank is working with the WWF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to increase and scale similar initiatives around the world. A similar project will be launched in Africa in collaboration with Justdiggit, a non-profit organisation that jump-starts landscape restoration programmes with a positive climate impact.
Rabobank chair 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 Kickstart Food programme is open for other organisations across the food sector.