Urban creep ‘a major issue’ says Rabobank
A $1b global programme towards a sustainable food supply, including land restoration and forest protection, has been launched by Rabobank. In New Zealand its initial focus will be on water, though its chief executive has agreed that the loss of growing soils to urban development is on the bank’s radar.
Called Kickstart Food, the programme is in partnership with UN Environment. It is to focus on four food issues: earth [sustainable and environmentally sound food production]; waste [reducing food waste throughout the food supply chain]; stability [creating a more stable and resilient food and agriculture sector] and nutrition [ensuring a healthy and balanced diet for everyone].
The bank’s New Zealand chief executive Daryl Johnson said the bank worked closely with its clients in New Zealand’s food and agribusiness sector to support them in developing initiatives which tackle some of the most pressing issues facing food production and agriculture.
He said the Kickstart programme in New Zealand would have the initial key focus of improving the health of New Zealand’s waterways.
“We’re currently considering new initiatives in this area and details of these will be confirmed in the coming months.”
Asked by this magazine whether the pressure on growing soils through urban development was also on the bank’s New Zealand radar, he said:
“This is a trend that Rabobank has identified internationally as a major issue and here in New Zealand the bank is certainly concerned that some of New Zealand’s most fertile soils are being taken out of production due to urbanisation.
“A greater emphasis may be placed on urban creep as the Kickstart programme progresses, however, at least initially, the focus in terms of KickStart will be on improving the quality of New Zealand waterways as we want to concentrate our resources in one area in order to maximise the impact of our initiative.”
The bank states that Kickstart embraces the UN Sustainable Development Goals. With the world’s population growing towards nine billion, the decline in available arable land and the impact of agriculture on climate change and the environment, food was at a critical juncture. Rabobank is therefore increasing its support efforts to increase food production by at least 60% towards 2050 while reducing the sector’s environmental footprint by 50%.