Major philanthropies urge massive scale up of agroecology and regenerative approaches
Tenfold increase in investment needed to realize climate resilience, stable yields, improved nutrition, and food security
Dubai, 01 December 2023—
25 leading philanthropies today issued a joint call for a tenfold increase in funding for regenerative and agroecological transitions to address urgent global agricultural and environmental challenges. Together these philanthropies urge that to align food systems with the 1.5ºC goal of the Paris Agreement there is a need to phase out fossil fuel use, especially fossil fuel–based agrochemicals in industrial agriculture, and transition toward agroecology and regenerative approaches.
Supporting this call to action, participating philanthropies today released a new report, “Cultivating Change: Accelerating and Scaling Agroecology and Regenerative Approaches,” which highlights the transformative potential of regenerative, agroecological, and Indigenous food systems and calls for a substantial increase in funding to 2040 and beyond.
Commissioned by philanthropic foundations active in food systems transformation, the research shows that a tenfold increase in investment is required to transition to more resilient, diverse, equitable, and healthy food systems:
- The estimated cost of a global transition to agroecology and regenerative approaches is USD 250-430 billion per year, less than 5% of the hidden costs of at least USD 12 trillion per year — 10% of global GDP — that include hunger and malnutrition, environmental damage, lost worker productivity, and health care.
- Current philanthropic, public, and private investments in agroecology and regenerative approaches are estimated to be USD 44 billion per year leaving an estimated USD 206-386 billion gap. A tenfold increase is required to support this much-needed transformation.
- Out of USD 635 billion in annual public agriculture subsidies globally, over half (USD 385 billion) result in harmful environmental impacts, and work against a transition to regenerative, agroecological food systems.
- Shifting these subsidies toward agroecological and regenerative approaches is critical.
“Our current food systems are not working for people and the planet. We call on civil society, governments, investors, and other donors to work with us to unlock the innovative partnerships and investments that we urgently need to scale up agroecology and regenerative approaches” says Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation.
Investment at the scale proposed would mean half of all food produced could be regenerative and agroecological by 2040, and all would be transitioning to more sustainable approaches by 2050. The return on investment would be high and exponential.
Evidence from around the world has shown that land and aquatic food systems managed for health, equity, and sustainability result in a cascade of positive results, from more stable yields, crop resilience, and higher incomes for farmers, fishers, and food producers, to improved nutrition and food security and enhanced biodiversity.
“Philanthropy is catalyzing pathways for transition to regenerative and resilient agriculture all over the world. Governments, the private sector, and those that finance agriculture must now urgently work to support this shift and commit to investing in the people who manage our landscapes, and grow our food and fibre, every day.” said Michelle Gortan, Chief Executive Officer, Macdoch Foundation.
Regenerative and agroecological food systems are under-resourced, with public and private subsidies and investment instead propping up fossil fuel–intensive food systems that are exacerbating climate change, driving biodiversity loss, and eroding public health. Food systems account for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and at least 15% of fossil fuel use. Yet only 3% of climate finance is allocated to food systems and an even smaller fraction to farmer, fisher or Indigenous-led organizations. Climate finance must be scaled and directed toward agroecology and regenerative food systems.
“We need a systemic and sustained approach to addressing the interlocking crises we’re facing. The costs of climate and biodiversity crises, food insecurity, and inequality are already being paid for by governments, taxpayers, and the most vulnerable. Philanthropy can send a potent signal about the need for change,” said Sara Farley, Vice President, Food, The Rockefeller Foundation.
“Our world is at a critical juncture, and our choices will reverberate for generations to come. We are collectively calling on our peers to up their philanthropic investments and join us in cultivating a just and equitable future,” said Anna Lappé, Executive Director, Global Alliance for the Future of Food.
About this Initiative
The philanthropic partners who are participating in this initiative address issues related to global food and agriculture at different scales, on diverse issues, and from a multitude of perspectives. They are: African Climate Foundation, Agroecology Fund, Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Builders Initiative Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, Erol Foundation, European Climate Foundation, Funders for Regenerative Agriculture, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, GRACE Communications Foundation, Instituto Ibirapitanga, IKEA Foundation, India Climate Collaborative, Instituto Clima e Sociedade, Laudes Foundation, Macdoch Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Oak Foundation, Platform for Agriculture and Climate Transformation, Porticus, Robert Bosch Stiftung, The Rockefeller Foundation, Thread Fund, Walton Family Foundation.
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food leads this co-design and engagement process with support from Dalberg Advisors, Pollination, and Presencing Institute.
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform global food systems now and for future generations. We believe in the urgency of transforming global food systems, and in the power of working together and with others to effect positive change. Food systems reform requires new and better solutions at all scales through a systems-level approach and deep collaboration among philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, Indigenous Peoples, government, and policymakers.
Background notes for media
- The full report can be found here and outlines the potential impact of increased funding in driving research, education, on-the-ground implementation, and policy advocacy.
- The agroecology principles apply to all forms of sustainable agriculture and food production systems, including crops, livestock and pastoral systems, agroforestry, fisheries and aquaculture. The 13 principles of agroecology as defined by the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and aligned with the 10 Elements of Agroecology adopted by the 197 FAO Members in December 2019.
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