The bank proposes that this will require a thorough redesign, with a renewed connection between consumers and the food they eat, and a revaluation of our food and its impact on the wider environment and our health. The focus of the paper is on examining food and agriculture from a holistic, systemic perspective – recognising the complexities and interdependencies of the sector.
The main goals of the bank’s suggested transition are for agriculture to work with nature rather than against it. At the same time, a balanced and resilient food system should be created to promote healthy diets and deliver fair pay for farmers.
Among the changes that the bank calls for are:
Balanced ecosystems as a basis for resilience in food production
- Including a reduction in food waste, an adaptation of circular solutions and a reduction of reliance on fossil fuels
A healthy society consuming sustainable and nutritious diets
- Including a move towards an 80 percent plant-based and 20 percent animal-based diet, a focus on locally and sustainably produced foods and an implementation of pricing structures that reflect the true cost of food
Inclusive prosperity through transparency and fair distribution of prosperity
- Including sharing the prosperity generated across the value chain and governmental support for farmers transitioning away from intensive farming.
Simon Crichton, food, farming and trade team manager at Triodos Bank UK, commented: “The current agricultural system is not sustainable and has reached its limits. We must bring the use of ecosystems, our eating habits and increasingly globalised food markets in balance. We should strive to produce healthy food for all, while respecting the limits of our planet and paying farmers fairly. That means we need to rethink the way we produce and process food, as well as how we trade, store, transport, sell and consume food.”
“We believe that money can be a force of good. In agriculture, banks should only invest in initiatives that have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes supporting those making a transition to more agroecological systems. Intensively farmed land risks becoming the stranded asset of the future, but thanks to regenerative agriculture we can avoid that.
“This transition needs the support of sound government policy across a number of departments and a nation of well-informed, conscious consumers, who are aware of the impact of the food they are eating. Overall, the focus of investment should be on the essence of our food system: providing nutritious food to all, now and in the future.”
The full vision paper ‘Towards ecologically and socially resilient food and agriculture systems’ is available to download from the right hand side bar of this page.
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Notes to editor
An overview of the report:
Working with nature
The main goals of the transition that Triodos Bank advocates are for agriculture to work with nature rather than against it. At the same time, a balanced and resilient food system should promote healthy diets and deliver fair pay for farmers.
The principles of organic agriculture benefit the health of people, soils and ecosystems and should be leading principles for the transition. To be successful, this will require a simultaneous reduction of waste streams and a change of eating habits. A move towards consumption of local food where possible is required. And consumers need to move from a large portion of animal-based proteins to more plant-based proteins. Ultimately, diets should consist of 80 percent plant-based and 20 percent animal-based ingredients. A reduction of livestock is therefore unavoidable.
Small farmers in developing countries should receive access to land and seeds, capital, education and infrastructure. Farmers in developed countries should be enabled to move towards sustainable farming methods. Power concentrations in the supply chain leading to inequality must be broken.
True pricing is a necessary element of the transition. The current price of food isn’t realistic for the long term as it does not take account of damage to ecosystems, diet related diseases and unfair wages.
Food prices must reflect the value we place on fertile land and biodiversity, landscapes, culture and fair-trade practices. For example, products that cause major damage to ecosystems should be more expensive than sustainable products. This will also encourage consumers to choose more sustainable and locally produced food.
Governments should stimulate and regulate a gradual transition to locally oriented, land-based animal farming that is based on organic principles.
Consumers should be enabled and encouraged to make more conscious choices about food. They need transparent information about the environmental footprint of food and nutritional values. Governments can help consumers make the right choice by providing clear regulation for transparency and by lowering the VAT for products that are produced organically and locally. Lastly, competition laws need to be revised so that they are no longer a burden for the transition, but rather stimulate it.
Financial institutions must play a significant role by innovating their investment criteria, pricing models, investment horizons and their reporting. Their criteria and investment decisions should encourage long-term strategies to bolster resilient future food systems. They should support sustainable innovation both for mature businesses and early-stage companies.
What does Triodos Bank do?
Since its origin, Triodos Bank finances initiatives that contribute to the necessary transition of food and agriculture systems. We continue to grow our portfolio of food & agriculture projects. Our financing focuses on certified organic activities, and we are expanding this to broader transition leaders. To tackle all challenges in our food and farming systems, only certified organic farming is insufficient. Other themes such as the protein transition towards a more plant-based diet, combating food waste, local food consumption where possible and a fair distribution of wealth need to be prioritised.
About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain, Germany and France as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands but active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of 54 sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.