Finance leaders publish new generation of ‘high ambition’ targets for the sustainable food transition

UN-supported group urges wider finance sector to ‘supersize its ambition’ 

  • Farms and businesses with over US$108 billion of business volume will be asked by investors and financiers to help meet specific and time-bound targets in areas such as zero deforestation, carbon removal and gender equality.
  • Finance sector players including Rabobank (NL), Nuveen Natural Capital (US), FIRA (Mexico) and Phatisa(Mauritius), convened by the Good Food Finance Network, set market-leading targets ahead of COP27.
  • “From digital tools to zero deforestation this new generation of high ambition targets can enable a cleaner greener food and agriculture sector… the wider finance sector must use COP27 to supersize its ambition and grow a more sustainable food and agriculture sector,” says Eric Usher, Head of UNEP Finance Initiative

(Geneva, 27/10/22) The Good Food Finance Network’s High Ambition Group, a group of 11 influential institutions in food and finance, today unveiled a first tranche of environmental and social impact targets covering over US$108 billion of existing assets. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) praised the targets and called on the wider finance sector to ‘supersize its ambition’ in the food and agriculture sector ahead of next week’s COP27 summit. 

For many years it has been unclear what a credible target for investment in a sustainable food system looks like, but today’s first set of ‘high ambition’ targets seeks to answer that question. 

The targets are time-bound (short term to 2023, medium term to 2025, and long term to 2030) and include specific commitments on a range of sustainability-themed dimensions from deforestation to diversity. For example, some of the individual targets are for 150 million hectares of farmland to benefit from more precise digital tools (Yara); for 15 million smallholder farmers in developing countries to be supported in the transition to agroforestry (Rabobank); and for zero deforestation across an entire portfolio (Signature Agri Investments and Nuveen Natural Capital).

The Good Food Finance Network is convened by UNEP, WBCSD, EAT Foundation, Food Systems for the Future and FAIRR and 7 of its ‘High Ambition Group’ members published targets in this first tranche: Rabobank (NL), Nuveen Natural Capital (US), Signature Agri Investments (NL), Global Environment Facility (US), Phatisa (Mauritus), Yara (Norway), and FIRA (Mexico) – the largest source of finance for agri-food and rural sectors in Mexico (full list of members and targets are in notes to editor).

Eric Usher, Head of UNEP Finance Initiative said 

“From digital tools to zero deforestation this new generation of high ambition targets can enable a cleaner greener food and agriculture sector. There is still a long way to go and the wider finance sector must use COP27 to supersize its ambition and grow a more sustainable food and agriculture sector.”

Wiebe Draijer, co-chair of the Good Food Finance Network and former CEO from Rabobank

“Identifying what a state-of-the-art, credible target to finance sustainable food and agriculture looks like is a vital part of addressing the urgent climate and food crises. Today’s new generation of high ambition targets provides a significant step forward in meeting that challenge. Increasing financial flows to the sustainable food transition must be at the top of the COP27 agenda if leaders are to leave Egypt with a viable plan for achieving a Net Zero world.”

UNEP has considered targets from the group as exemplifying good practice and high ambition in target-setting. A full list of the innovative targets announced today is included in the notes to the editor section of this release, examples include: 

  • Rabobank (Netherlands) will, through its ACORN programme, support millions of smallholder farmers to transition to agroforestry, growing trees with annual crops and/or livestock. Using state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques and artificial intelligence to measure carbon sequestration and unique certification by Plan Vivo it allows for scalable monetization of sequestered carbon for those that need it most. 80% of revenue flows directly to the smallholder farmer. The programme has an ambition for total sequestration of 100 megatons of CO2 per year by 2030.  Rabobank will also publish a climate target aligned with the UN-convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA).
  • Trust Funds for Agricultural Development (FIRA) (Mexico) will grow its $350 million climate adaptation and resilience portfolio (guided by a taxonomy built with Carbon Trust) 5% year-on-year, starting 2023, with the target of increasing the flow of financing towards adaptation and resilience to $540 million by 2030, which means FIRA would finance around $3.6bn throughout 8 years.
  • Global Environment Facility (GEF), will restore 420,000 hectares of degraded land, improve land management practices in over 20 million hectares, mitigate 223 million tons of CO2 while at the same time reducing the use and waste of chemicals of global concern by 21 million tons by 2030. GEF will also promote innovative financial mechanisms, including micro-finance for SMEs, and blended finance for investments to scale nature-positive production and achieve landscape regeneration.  
  • Phatisa (Mauritius), which operates across sub-Saharan Africa, has set a target for 100% of portfolio companies to have a gender policy and stretching targets to increase female employment across different skill levels by 2025.
  • Yara (Norway) has set a target for 150 million hectares of farmland by 2025 to benefit from digital solutions that help improve areas such as nutrient efficiency, reduction of pollution and water impacts.
  • Nuveen Natural Capital (US), a land-focused asset manager with approximately 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) in assets under management, will, by 2023, upgrade its existing zero deforestation policies and roll out to all product lines and regions, with a focus on materiality, while completing a natural capital inventory of all properties to identify opportunities for further improvement. 
  • Signature Agri Investments (Netherlands), with holdings across Africa, beyond committing to zero deforestation targets, has set goals to transition their African farms to regenerative farming principles for its whole portfolio by 2030 and plans for climate-resilient restoration of degraded lands.      

All selected targets are publicly available, with the intention being for each member, and the wider finance sector, to benefit from the innovation of pioneers and adapt approaches to fit with their own investment portfolios.

The Good Food Finance Network acknowledges that today’s targets are the start of a long journey and further targets will continue to be issued across a set of 14 environmental and social themes in the months ahead.

HAG members are also working on targets for areas such as labour conditions, food security, nutrition, nature and biodiversity dependencies and impacts, food loss and waste, regenerative and climate-smart agriculture – currently constrained by a lack of standardized technical guidance, metrics or capacity. It is expected that the ratification of the Global Framework on Biodiversity, anticipated later this year, together with the pilot Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, will underpin many HAG members’ targets and policies in future – with several members, including Nuveen Natural Capital, Signature Agri InvestmentsPhatisa and Rabobank taking the important step of establishing baselines for future measurement in preparation.

The progress of the GFFN High Ambition Group will be discussed at an event at COP27, co-led by the Just Rural Transition: “Financing a sustainable and just food system transition: How financial institutions and value chain actors set concrete targets & take action”. The event will be held in the Food Systems Pavilion in the Blue Zone on Finance Day, Wed 9th November 2022, 10:00 – 10:45 EET.

Berry Marttin, Member of the Executive Board of Rabobank said,

“To provide enough food within planetary boundaries, we need to push for an inclusive transition to sustainable farming. 

“By 2030, our ACORN programme will incentivise millions of farmers to meaningfully contribute to the global carbon sequestration effort. Simultaneously Rabobank will provide financial support to those who are struggling as climate change impacts the productivity of land and labour, helping to ensure a just transition to a more sustainable food system.”

Matthew Reddy, Senior Private Sector Specialist, Global Environmental Facility said,

Sustainable agricultural systems are essential for the health, food security and nutrition, and economic well-being of people around the globe. We fully support this collaboration between public and private financial institutions and agri-businesses through the Good Food Finance Network.  It shows how investing in sustainable food systems can help reverse environmental degradation, deliver on net-zero targets, be nature positive, and support key Sustainable Development Goals.

The GEF has increased our level of ambition so that in our Food Systems Integrated Program in GEF-8 we can restore 420,000 hectares of degraded land, improve land management practices in over 21 million hectares, mitigate 223 million tons of carbon dioxide, while at the same time reducing the use and waste of chemicals of global concern by 21 thousand tons.”

Artemio Vázquez Aguilar, Director of environment, fisheries and value networks, FIRA said 

“In an effort to contribute to the mitigation, adaptation and resilience to the negative effects of climate change in the agricultural sector, FIRA committed to the objective of increasing financing for climate resilience and adaptation measures to $3.6 billion for the 2023-2030 period, representing a significant step in the sector, in search of food sustainability.” –

Bernhard Stormyr, VP Sustainability Governance, Yara International said:

“Yara’s mission is to responsibly feed the world and protect the planet. A holistic approach to performance management is critical to deliver on our mission. Our targets, spanning the People, Planet and Prosperity dimensions, are key enablers for company transition, making sure we are on track in adapting our business and delivering real results for nature and climate while improving livelihoods.”

Duncan Vink, Joint Managing Director, Signature Agri Investments said:

As agricultural investors, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge the significant negative impacts which commercial agriculture has on nature, and the sector’s dependence on it. That’s why we have set nature-related targets, most notably the concrete goal of zero deforestation across our portfolio by 2025. We will continue to explore what nature positivity means to us and set targets that will help us work toward this goal with the highest level of ambition. In addition to becoming forest positive, we will introduce regenerative agriculture principles on our farms to increase biodiversity, mitigate climate change and improve resilience.”

Notes to editor:

For more information, including interviews and comment, please contact Mike Marshall, ESG Communications.

t: + 44 (0)7728 816 426 | e:  

  • * Please note the figure of $108bn is the total amount of existing assets covered by targets. It includes assets held by Phatisa ($143M), Signature Agri ($180M), Nuveen ($10.5Billion), FIRA ($712M), GEF ($307M) and Rabobank (total food and agriculture loan portfolio is $101.5billion. Rabobank’s climate target covers 25% of this portfolio by 2023 and 95% of its total food and agriculture portfolio- 96.4 Billion by 2025). It however excludes Yara, as Yara is a non-financial company, hence the revenues covered in their targets are not considered as they are not comparable assets. 
  • The GFFN High Ambition Group (HAG) is a leadership initiative composed of public and private financial institutions, including C-suite participation of global environmental funds, banks, asset managers, and agri-businesses. It aims to lead change towards more sustainable food systems through setting and publicly committing to ambitious targets, putting a roadmap for implementation into place, and pioneering sustainable finance solutions.
  • Full list of High Ambition Group members: Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility (the financial mechanism to five conventions including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), FIRA, Rabobank, National Australia Bank, Signature Agri Investments, Phatisa, Amerra Capital, Nuveen Natural Capital, Olam Food ingredients, Yara International.
  • Full list of selected targets summarised in table below.

The Good Food Finance Network is a multi-stakeholder collaborative innovation platform, working to develop the critical innovations that will allow sustainable food system finance to become the mainstream standard. The Network is convened by EAT FoundationFAIRR InitiativeFood Systems for the Future, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), in close collaboration with the World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), S2G Ventures, the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Just Rural Transition, the Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), and other supporting partners.

List of selected first tranche of targets as of 27/10/22:

* This value indicates how much of an institution´s portfolio is covered by all their targets submitted as part of this initiative. Assets under management (AUMs) are not translated immediately into green financial ‘flows/transactions’. They are ‘financial stocks’, already on the books of the financial institutions, that over time will be adjusted to meet the targets at hand.

** Yara is a non-financial company, hence the revenues covered in their targets are not considered in the total target coverage estimation. Climate- and People KPIs from Yara cover the overall revenue streams from Yara, which in 2021, reported revenues of USD 16.6 billion.

Published by GFFN Secretariat

The Good Food Finance Network Secretariat is comprised of the convening core partner organizations’ dedicated team members, who share responsibility for coordinating the Network and its activities. The convening core partners are EAT, FAIRR, Food Systems for the Future, UNEP, and WBCSD.

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