Rabobank, the Netherlands banking giant and one of the world’s lenders to the global food and agriculture sector, today announced a $1 billion credit program that seeks to launch more land restoration and forest protection projects worldwide. The overarching goal, insists Rabobank, is to scale up more sustainable food and farming practices over the next three years.
The Netherlands-based bank currently claims it has over $109 billion outstanding in loans across the global food supply chain. “We also aim to strengthen food chains by optimization and financing, by taking part in initiatives for sustainable food security, by stimulating public debate and by contributing to the innovation financing that is necessary,” Rabobank states on its web site.
In addition, the bank says it employs at least 80 researchers who regularly report on trends across the global food industry.
The bank now wants to take its sustainable agriculture financing a step further with its “Kickstart Food” program. Partnering with UN Environment, Rabobank says its plan will focus on expanding finance options within four areas: food waste, soil restoration, resilient agriculture and nutrition.
One example of how Rabobank has already been turning such pledges into action is in Brazil. The bank has partnered with WWF’s Brazil chapter to finance and promote strategies so that agriculture can be used as a strategy to take on deforestation in the Amazon and other regions across the country.
The result has been an uptick in integrated crop-livestock-forest (ICLF) systems. The program pushes crop rotation even further by integrating livestock farming or forestry activities with the growth of crops such as soy. A joint study by Rabobank and WWF Brazil concluded that ICLF systems can result in requiring only one-sixth the amount of land needed for conventional agriculture.
Rabobank says such a focus on agriculture and food production is one way in which the bank can commit to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The long-term goal of Rabobank is to do its part to help increase global efforts to boost food production by 60 percent while reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint 50 percent by 2050.
To that end, Rabobank also insists that it is working to promote sustainability certification for its clients. The bank says it often advises them on the latest developments in sustainable production and soil management methods. Hence this bolstered credit facility, in tandem with UN Environment, can offer more grants, which in turn can allow companies to start much-needed land restoration and forest protection projects. In the end, the adoption of such tactics can reduce their exposure to risks, which means these companies can secure financing with ease in the future.
“Our global lead role in financing food production urges us to accelerate developments on the sustainable food issue,” said Wiebe Draijer, chair of Rabobank’s managing board, in an emailed statement to TriplePundit. “With our knowledge, networks and financial power, it is our natural role to further motivate and facilitate clients in adopting a more sustainable food production practice.”
Image credit: Rabobank