Rabobank and UN Environment announced the launch of a $1 billion program to finance sustainable agriculture using a combination of public and private funding. The program will provide grants, de-risking instruments and credit to clients involved in sustainable agricultural production, processing or the trade of soft commodities who adhere to strict provisions for forest protection, restoration and the involvement of smallholders.
The program kicked off in Brazil and Indonesia on Oct. 17. In Brazil, the partnership is committed to the promotion and financing of integrated crop, livestock and forestry (ICLF) farming practices on the 17 million hectares of existing arable land under the management of Brazilian farmers financed by Rabobank. The activity is part of the strategic WWF Rabobank partnership. In Indonesia, partnership will finance replanting schemes for smallholders in partnership with corporate clients. These include forest and biodiversity protection, restoration and certification of oil palm.
Commenting on the program, Rabobank CEO Wiebe Draijer, said: “Our aim is to substantially increase the quality of existing arable land while protecting biodiversity and reducing climate change worldwide. It is clear that a different way of agricultural practices is needed that includes incentives and provisions to protect forest ecosystems and restore degraded lands if we are to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as well as keep global temperature rises to below 2˚C as agreed in the Paris Climate Agreement."
Halting climate change and an increasing agricultural footprint on the one hand, while ensuring growth in agricultural production to feed an estimated 9 billion people in 2050, are among the most defining challenges of the 21st century.
“Support from industry leaders like Rabobank is an extremely important first step," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. “We want the entire finance industry to change their agricultural lending, away from deforestation and towards integrated landscapes, which provide good jobs, protect biodiversity, and are good for the climate. Sustainable land use and landscape restoration is also fundamentally about sound investments and good business. We want to speed up this trend so that it becomes the 'new normal' for the finance industry."