A report published by The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Transformational Investing in Food Systems (TIFS) Initiative reveals that social and environmental investments create sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems.
The report, Mobilizing Money and Movements: Creative Finance for Food Systems Transformation, urges impact investors to strengthen food systems by supporting entrepreneurs, farmers, activists, and social justice movements. The report builds on the Global Alliance’s Beacons of Hope project, and highlights six global organizations driving food systems change through creative investment strategies.
Lauren Baker, Deputy Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, says that these organizations “illustrate the nature of investments that can create healthy, nutritious food systems, promote soil health, and curb climate change.”
Educe Cooperativa (Educe Coop), for example, is a Fair Trade and organic certified honey cooperative. These certifications allow Educe Coop to preserve cultural heritage, increase biodiversity, and invest in their beekeeper members. Another creative example is the Municipality of Copenhagen’s commitment to stock all public kitchens with 90 percent organic products. This helps achieve social and environmental objectives while improving the quality of meals served in public institutions.
Director of TIFS, Rex Raimond, says, “in recent years, there has been a vital transformation within the financial sector.” Businesses, governments, and non-governmental organizations are increasingly committing to Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) reporting that aligns with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Raimond welcomes this progress but insists that, “finance leaders must go further.” By adopting systems-based approaches that impact more diverse stakeholders, the entire food system can be made more resilient.
Pun Pun Center for Self-Reliance, a Thai farm and learning center, featured in the report, is taking a systems-based approach. They are embracing a pricing model that factors in externalities like farmer time, management costs, and transportation. Pun Pun’s farmers, the majority of whom are women, can now diversify what they grow, increase soil health by growing a greater range of crops, and increase personal savings.
The report also outlines five proven, creative financing approaches. Mobilizing social investments is one approach organizations can take to accomplish financial returns. Shared ownership approaches can also deliver fair and inclusive financial returns and shape programs and policies. And utilizing existing resources can help create self-reliant systems.
The report also highlights four levers of change. These levers can act as benchmarks for inspiring food systems action and directing funding from policymakers, entrepreneurs, donors, investors, and philanthropic groups. The report calls on investors to acknowledge the relationships between farmers and the land they cultivate. They also hope investments will support agroecological practices to restore soil health. And they call on funders to build processing infrastructure and improve procurement practices to incentivize better healthy food production.
The publication of this report coincides with the African Agroecological Entrepreneurship & Territorial Markets Convening, hosted by the Alliance for Food Security in Africa (AFSA), in Kampala, Uganda. AFSA hopes to see participants from civil society, the public sector, academic research, donors, and investors put the creative financing strategies and levers of change referenced in Mobilizing Money and Movements into action.
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Photo courtesy of Ivan Bandura, Unsplash
Sycamore May is a New York based Research and Writing Fellow at Food Tank. She completed her undergraduate degree at Emerson College, where she received a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and wrote about food and farming. After working on organic farms and developing a deeper interest in agroecology, she went on to complete an MSc in Food Policy from City, University of London. Sycamore’s various food system experiences have included organic farm educator, nonprofit researcher, environmental policy writer, and most recently sustainability manager for an organic egg company. Sycamore is interested in food justice, climate action, and regenerative agriculture.
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