Scientific findings regarding climate change and land, biodiversity loss, and our food systems make clear: We cannot end the climate crisis or achieve the Sustainable Development Goals—on which the wellbeing of people everywhere depends—if we do not find a way to transition to healthy, sustainable food systems.
Dr. Gunhild A. Stordalen, Executive Chair of the EAT Foundation, has made clear the stakes, saying:
We must develop viable economic pathways to a healthy, just, and sustainable food future. The cost of inaction is too high to delay action further.
The Good Food Finance Initiative is a multistakeholder engagement process, bringing together leaders in finance, government, business, analytics, and policy design, to work toward a defined Toolbox of known, emerging, and theoretical future strategies for financing sustainable food systems. It is convened by EAT and FAIRR, in close collaboration with the World Bank.
In the first GFFI High-Level Roundtable, participants discussed and helped to shape this Mission Statement for the Initiative:
THE GOOD FOOD FINANCE INITIATIVE
The COVID-19 pandemic emergency has revealed deep and costly vulnerabilities in supply chains and economies across the world. Throughout 2020, food insecurity rapidly expanded, including in wealthy countries; worldwide, the incidence of acute hunger is estimated to have doubled.
- One of the most costly areas of vulnerability is diet-related non-communicable diseases, which not only degrade human health and are a leading cause of premature death, but make whole populations far more susceptible to novel pathogens, like the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
- Another costly food system impact is environmental degradation—including land, water, and the biosphere, all worsened by escalating climate disruption.
- A third high-cost vulnerability is the fact that food systems fail to provide sustainable livelihoods to agricultural workers, meaning food-producing and rural areas suffer higher rates of extreme poverty, resulting in persistent involuntary migration and an additional threat to food security.
- Structural incentives lock these vulnerabilities into our everyday lives and make it harder for decision-makers in the public and private sectors to surround people with healthy, sustainable choices.
To build a resilient future of inclusive sustainable prosperity, we need to shift unhealthy incentives, avoid destructive investments, and mobilize finance to open a healthy future to all people.
- Taking account of these and other cascading and compounding risks;
- Recognizing the One Health standard—that “health” must include human health, the wellbeing of animals and ecosystems, and also the health and resilience of livelihoods, economies and national budgets;
- Understanding that good food finance requires careful, outcome-oriented alignment of structural incentives, market-level practices, and local production and consumption for healthy, sustainable outcomes;
- Aspiring to an everyday economy in which all people are surrounded by healthy, sustainable, and affordable Nature-positive food choices;
We, the network of partners, advisors, supporters, and participants in the Good Food Finance Initiative, are committed to working together to identify, develop, deploy, and mainstream the optimal financial instruments, strategies, and enabling policies, to generate food systems that sustain the health of people, Nature, and whole economies.
What does this mean for climate-smart finance?
Our food systems generate 34% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That’s more than 1/3 of the emissions driving global heating. Climate-smart food production and zero-emissions processing and distribution systems will be critical to eliminating the climate-disrupting impact of food systems.
With the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ) committing $70 trillion in assets under management to science-based net-zero pathways, including substantial early action to reduce emissions, the proverbial “pie” for business as usual is shrinking. Agroforestry and regenerative farming practices that build soil biomass are key ingredients in the carbon sequestration economy.
Nigel Topping, High-Level Climate Champion for the COP26, said in the Roundtable:
Action and solidarity will be key for success in Glasgow. We are facing the big question: Are we going to build a regenerative global economy?
As we develop more precise and translatable metrics for assessing the climate resilience value of specific investments, and as new business models emerge to attract climate-smart investment, we need resilience-building food systems to flourish. That means:
- farmers being paid for climate services;
- local dedicated financial institutions helping to downscale science data and deliver finance;
- enabling policies leveraging existing mainstream financial and insurance services;
- unlocking the sustainable development value of marginalized communities;
- protecting Nature and building ecosystem health and resilience.
These are all investable outcomes that secure and expand value across whole economies. We are now in the process of learning how to visualize that embedded shared value creation.
Securing a healthy financial future
The One Health standard recognizes that human health and the health and wellbeing of livestock, wildlife, and ecosystems, are intertwined. When we account for the macro-critical (economy-shaping) effect of structural underpinnings of value creation—the building or depletion of human capital, and natural capital—it becomes evident that the fiscal health of nations is also part of the One Health equation.
National investment—direct or indirect—in destructive outcomes undermines the health and resilience of people, Nature, and ultimately, a whole society’s ability to thrive sustainably. National investment that fosters health and resilience in Nature, food systems, and for all people, builds a more solid foundation for sustainable, inclusive value creation and shared prosperity and wellbeing.
The Summary of the 1st Good Food Finance High-Level Roundtable describes such resilience-building investments as “defensible value creation”. That means:
sustainable, renewable benefits from investment activity that not only provide a bottom-line return on investment but also secure environmental and social benefits, sustain equitable generation and distribution of economic value, and help to secure the foundations for future wellbeing.
A healthy future financial system is one that fosters health and resilience of people and Nature. The Good Food Finance Initiative is working to develop the Toolbox of instruments, strategies, and enabling policies needed to ensure this transformation happens swiftly and efficiently.
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