The USD 1 billion sustainable agriculture and forestry initiative “AGRI3” has been strengthened by two new cornerstone investors. At the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 23, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it will become an anchor public investor in the AGRI3 Fund by contributing USD 40 million – an amount matched by Rabobank. Together these contributions will mobilize commercial finance, which can be used to finance sustainable agriculture and accelerate forest protection.
Forests are key to mitigating climate change
A growing demand for food is placing land and forests under tremendous strain. Seven million hectares of tropical forests disappear annually and emissions related to agriculture and tropical forest loss contribute 24 per cent to total global greenhouse gas emissions: more than cars and planes combined. The AGRI3 Fund was created by UN Environment Programme and Rabobank, together with partner IDH and supported by FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, to mitigate climate change.
HE Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: “The AGRI3 Fund provides a unique opportunity to contribute to forest protection and sustainable agriculture at scale, while also helping to transform the financial sector’s attitude towards sustainable investments.”
The fund acts as a blended finance vehicle aimed at unlocking at least USD 1 billion in finance. It provides additional de-risking financial instruments and grants for technical assistance for food value chain actors, and, particularly, farmers. “As a cooperative bank, we see it as our role to help our clients accomplish the required shift in the agricultural value chains,” says Wiebe Draijer, chairman of the Managing Board of Rabobank. “The Dutch government supporting our partnership is a more than welcome complement. Together with our contribution, I’m utterly convinced these combined contributions will spur this shift.”
“AGRI3 and similar land use facilities, catalyzed with the support of UNEP, are the cornerstone of the financial architecture for deforestation-free and nature-positive agriculture,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “We are very grateful to the Dutch government for their crucial contribution to the AGRI3 Fund. It is time for banks, investors, governments and agribusinesses to join institutions like Rabobank in financing sustainable food and forestry value chains, to save the climate, protect biodiversity, and ensure sustainable development.”
The AGRI3 Fund will be a role model for banks and other financial institutions and is open for other banks and investors to join. The UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda urgently requires sustainable agriculture initiatives at scale. The Dutch government grant will help unlock further resources from impact investors and financiers. Farmers and food producers who would not normally have access to these resources now have an alternative to finance their investments in sustainable food production.
Start of the AGRI3 Fund
Now that the Dutch government has approved the USD 40 million grant, the AGRI3 Fund will be up and running in the first half of 2020. Mirova Natural Capital, FOUNT and Cardano Development will act as investment advisors. The fund will be open to participation by commercial banks aiming at sustainable agriculture and forest conservation. Linked to the fund, a dedicated Technical Assistance facility will be established, which will be managed by IDH. The AGRI3 TA facility will provide support to help potential projects become investment ready. It will also strengthen impact tracking and knowledge sharing from the AGRI3 Fund and its investees to spur growth of sustainable land use investments globally.
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