ROME, ITALY — The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Rabobank have partnered to help rural communities benefit from more inclusive sustainable food systems.

The partnership also will explore the use of financial instruments to bridge financing gaps in emerging markets and to promote sustainability in food systems investments.

The FAO and Rabobank will work with key food and agriculture sectors on a series of projects designed to help lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve land and water use, and empower smallholder farmers to address the challenges of climate change and reduction of food losses. Special attention will be paid in ensuring the inclusion of poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups, including women and youth.

The partnership’s projects will support FAO’s Hand-in-Hand initiative, which matches donors and recipients to support tailor-made, country-led efforts to assist the most vulnerable populations. The private sector is a key partner in the initiative, and Rabobank, as a global leader in food and agriculture financing and sustainability-oriented banking, is well-placed to assist in designing such interventions.

“The new partnership between FAO and Rabobank will serve to support our work to transform food systems so that they can become more inclusive and sustainable, especially within the context of the COVID-19 response and the need to build back, better,” said Qu Dongyu, director-general of the FAO. “In particular it will focus on improved land and water use, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and food loss while increasing the resilience of farmers and small-scale businesses. I also wish to thank Rabobank’s support to FAO’s Hand-In-Hand Initiative, which aims, through specific country-led interventions, to assist the most vulnerable populations.”

 COVID-19 has shown that food systems need a ‘new normal,’ said Berry Marttin, board member of Rabobank.

“We need to identify and analyze finance gaps and debate short and long supply chains,” Marttin said. “We must focus on innovative ways to reward sustainability investments, such as implementing ‘nature costing,’ a pricing structure that reflects food’s environmental impact. Rabobank is the leading bank in food and agriculture, but also a cooperative bank. We believe in working together. By partnering with FAO, we can mobilize our complementary expertise and networks to contribute to real food system transformations.”

The partnership also will map agricultural supply chains to identify opportunities for green finance hotspots in emerging markets and explore the possibility of environmental or climate finance programming incentives that reward farmers and small agribusinesses for adopting GHG emission reduction technologies and practices.