Currency and money in soil with young plant seedlings © Shutterstock / isak55 / WWF

Currency and money in soil with young plant seedlings © Shutterstock / isak55 / WWF

Governing and financing food

Producers and consumers heavily influence food production but so, too, can governments, banks and lending institutions. However, the laws that govern food production and food-related investments often neglect its environmental impacts. To create a truly sustainable food system, we need to enlist policy-makers and those members of the finance industry who have a stake in food production and distribution.

WWF is on the front foot, engaging with government agencies to promote food industry regulations that take environmental values into account. We're also supporting the development of sensitive infrastructure for transport and energy used by the food industry.

When it comes to commercial lending and investment in food production, we believe that banks and asset managers should subject prospective borrowers and investee companies to rigorous sustainability assessments. This would allow money managers to screen out high-risk operations and allocate capital to more responsible clients and sustainable enterprises.

What we're doing

Why it matters 

Good governance is fundamental to sustainable development. Natural resources such as land and water, timber and fish, are often managed as if only market values matter; environmental protection is secondary. Thankfully, a growing number of governments, companies and environmentally aware consumers know better.

But while developed nations like Australia have in place environmental laws and regulations, our businesses are moving to adopt voluntary sustainability policies, and more shoppers are seeking responsible products and services, we need to be vigilant. Environmental laws need to be enforced, voluntary corporate action can be insincere and consumer behaviour doesn't always last. Such challenges are especially acute in developing countries where big natural resource decisions or funding is opaque and public participation constrained.

In Australia and overseas WWF works to strengthen the governance of natural and financial capital. We want governments and the private sector, especially financial institutions, to be more transparent and inclusive in their decision-making. Only through broad representation and discussion can we make decisions in the best interests of people and the planet.

Building community engagement in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, October 2012 © WWF-US / Julie Pudlowski

What you can do to help

Learn about Australian aid spending and advocate for more attention to sustainability criteria.

Consider your own bank or pension provider and their sustainability policies. Do they have clear targets and timetables for improved environmental outcomes? Do they report regularly and publicly on their progress and shortfalls?

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