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Rabobank teams with UN on $1bn sustainable ag fund

The Dutch lender has invited other financial institutions to contribute to the facility, which is likely to become operational next year.

Rabobank has teamed with the UN on a $1 billion facility designed to support agricultural investments contributing to the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and the organization’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Investments from the facility, which is not yet operational, will come in the form of credit, grants and de-risking instruments for clients involved in sustainable land use and the processing or trading of soft commodities. Recipients are to be assessed in terms of their forest protection, inclusion of smallholders and restoration efforts, the Dutch lender said.

“As the leading global food and agriculture bank, Rabobank recognizes its responsibility to combine long-term stability of food production for the growing global population and the transition to sustainable land use,” noted Rabobank chief executive Wiebe Draijer. “Our aim is to substantially increase the quality of existing arable land while protecting biodiversity and reducing climate change worldwide.”

Co-investors wanted

The first two projects that will receive support from the facility are a 17 million hectare integrated crop, livestock and forestry operation maintained by a Rabobank client in Brazil; and an effort to encourage replanting schemes for smallholders, forest and biodiversity protection, and restoration and certification of palm oil in Indonesia.

A spokesman for the bank noted that Draijer had invited other financial institutions to contribute to the facility at the plenary session of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development on Tuesday and said that Rabobank plans to share operational details and progress of the facility at the World Economic Forum in January 2018.

“Our message is: together with UN Environment, we are prepared to invest in climate smart agriculture,” the spokesman added. “Lack of finance cannot be the issue to upscale restoration of existing arable land and forests.”

Rabobank declined to provide more detail about loans that will be offered from the facility, or the regions and subsectors that will be its focus.