Refugees queue at a World Food Programme food distribution site at a refugee settlement Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Refugees queue at a World Food Programme (WFP) food distribution site at a refugee settlement on February 25, 2017 in Palorinya, Uganda.

Rabobank feeds the fire of innovation for global food-secure future

Rabobank launches $1 billion facility to initiate land restoration and forest protection initiatives.

World Food Day is being marked this year as global hunger rises for the first time in over a decade, affecting 815 million people or 11% of the global population.

On World Food Day, Oct. 16, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations highlights awareness for world hunger, the need to ensure food security and providing nutritious diets for all. “Investing in sustainable food systems and rural development means addressing some of the major global challenges — from feeding the world’s growing population to protecting the global climate, and tackling some of the root causes of migration and displacement,” states the FAO.

According to the FAO, the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, a 7.3 billion increase from today. It will take a coordinated effort to keep pace with that growth and fill the gap for those without access to a secure food supply.

Recognizing the enormous challenge in developing a food-secure future, Rabobank and the United Nations Environment Program announce it is launching Kickstart Food, an initiative to increase food production by 60% with a 50% smaller footprint by 2050. One of the first steps in this program will be the launch of a one billion dollar facility to initiate land restoration and forest protection initiatives.

“As you have heard, building a food-secure future is a huge challenge; one that our clients and partners face in their everyday work,” Wiebe Draijer, Rabobank chief executive officer, tells National Hog Farmer. “Together, we need to radically rethink how we produce, process and consume our food. And we have less than a generation to do it.”

As a leading food and agri-bank worldwide, Rabobank sees every day how its clients and partners come up with new ways of producing more nourishing food with a lower environmental impact. “New ways of reducing waste, and new ways that we can bring more stability to the value chain. It is these innovations, these sparks of hope that will catch fire and blaze the trail to the future,” he stresses.

Draijer says it is Rabobank’s duty to fan the flames and feed the fire of innovation among their clients and partners. Therefore, the company is investing in Kickstart Food, a three-year program to kick-start and scale promising innovations from around the world. The investment will take the shape of financial incentives and technical assistance, drawing on best practices from Rabobank’s global client base and in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and other leading organizations.

The facility is being launched in partnership with UN Environment. It marks the start of a three-year initiative to kick-start and scale up Rabobank’s support for clients and partners in the transition to a more sustainable food and agricultural sector. The Kickstart Food initiative has four key focus areas: 

  • Earth: restoring the soil quality of the current arable land around the world as a prerequisite to producing more food with less impact on the environment
  • Waste: reducing food waste throughout the entire food production chain
  • Stability: promoting and stimulating a more stable and resilient food market
  • Nutrition: balancing the nutritional value of our diets, available for everyone

“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.” stresses Draijer.

With this mission, Rabobank embraces the UN Sustainable Development Goals. With the world’s population growing toward 9 billion, the decline in available arable land, and the impact of agriculture on climate change and the environment; food production is now at a critical juncture. Therefore, Rabobank is increasing its support for efforts to increase food production by at least 60% toward 2050 while reducing the sector’s environmental footprint by 50%.

Around the globe, Rabobank is actively promoting sustainability certification for its clients. The bank is also advising them on sustainable production methods and soil management. The facility together with UN Environment aims to offer grants and open the door for clients to initiate large-scale land restoration and forest protection projects. It positively affects their risk profile, which leads to easier access to loans.

This joint effort with UN Environment is designed to be an open platform for others to join. Rabobank invites stakeholders from across the entire food and agricultural sector to join the Kickstart Food program.

Click here for more information about Kickstart Food.

Click here for more information about the facility.

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