The United Nations Environment Program [UNEP] has launched a $1 billion fund offering grants and loans to agricultural producers interested in sustainable farming practices.
The initiative, named ‘Kickstart Food’, is the result of a deal between UNEP and Dutch financial institution Rabobank.
By creating the fund, UNEP aims to address climate change, while increasing agricultural footprint, and ensuring growth in agricultural production to feed an estimated 9 billion people by 2050 – in what the organization referred to as one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.
Kickstart Food will focus on four key areas: earth, waste, stability, and nutrition, and will be running for three years – starting with projects in Brazil and Indonesia.
The agriculture sector, which is considered the second largest driver of human activity-driven climate change, is currently responsbile for 25 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Head of UNEP, Erik Solheim stated: “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.”
Wiebe Draijer, Rabobank CEO said: “As the leading global food and agriculture bank, Rabobank recognizes its responsibility to combine the long-term stability of food production for the growing global population and the transition to sustainable land use.
“We welcome other major global players in the primary production, food industry, and financial institutions to work together with us.
He added: “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.”