FAO partners Rabobank to make food system more sustainable

Joint projects aim to lower greenhouse gas emissions, improve land and water use, and empower smallholder farmers to reduce food losses and address the challenges of climate change.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has sealed a new partnership with Rabobank, a Dutch cooperative bank, with the aim of helping targeted rural communities benefit from more inclusive, sustainable food systems. It also envisages jointly exploring the use of innovative financial instruments to bridge financing gaps in emerging markets, and to promote sustainability in food systems investments.

FAO and Rabobank will work with players in the food and agriculture sectors on a series of projects designed to help lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve land and water use, and empower smallholder farmers to address the challenges of climate change and reduction of food losses. Special attention will also be paid in ensuring the inclusion of poor, vulnerable and marginalised groups, including women and youth.

The collaboration will begin with a review of the dairy sector in two pilot countries, India and Kenya, with a view to reducing food losses in the sector and promoting a transition to more sustainable food systems. The dairy sector has an important role to play in food systems transformation, according to both organisations, as it contributes to food security and nutrition and provides livelihoods for a number of actors along the food value chain. Though dairy production also contributes to GHG emissions, it holds “huge potential” for improvement, they said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that our food systems need a “new normal”, said Berry Marttin, board member of Rabobank. “We need to identify and analyse finance gaps and debate short and long supply chains. We must focus on innovative ways to reward sustainability investments, such as implementing ‘nature costing’, a pricing structure that reflects food’s environmental impact.”

The partnership will also map agricultural supply chains to identify opportunities for green finance hotspots in emerging markets, and explore the possibility of environmental or climate finance programming incentives that reward farmers and small agribusinesses for adopting GHG emission reduction technologies and practices.

Qu Dongyu, director-general, FAO, concluded: “The new partnership between FAO and Rabobank will serve to support our work to transform food systems so that they can become more inclusive and sustainable, especially within the context of the COVID-19 response and the need to build back, better. In particular, it will focus on improved land and water use, lowering GHG emissions and food loss while increasing the resilience of farmers and small-scale businesses.”