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The (inter)national food transition (2)

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Let's be honest. Do you know what you're eating? And do you know that about a third of all CO2 emissions come from our food system. How do we make more conscious choices? And what role can institutional investors and insurers play in this?

From Farmer to Fork
This second part of our series on The (inter)national food transition focuses on the Farm-to-fork strategy. The first part, in which Marjolein Brasz (Food Valley) mainly discussed our action perspective, can be found on our website.

During a knowledge session of the IRBC covenant for the insurance sector, which will continue until 1 July, our food policy was central. At a historic location, in the heart of Rotterdam, some thirty insurers, asset managers, NGOs and pension funds discussed our food policy with the government. Place of action: Blue City, a HUB for fifty circular companies that are all experimenting with the circular economy.

Europe's influence

Jouke Knol of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality opened his lecture with a telling question to the audience. "Who actually rules in the Netherlands?" The correct answer was given quickly. "That is indeed to a large extent the EU. Frans Timmermans and Diederik Samson are important forces in this. They have initiated the transition that is extensive, ambitious and inescapable for the future."
Knol indicated that the Dutch government is positive about the goals of the Green Deal. "The government sees the need and endorses the ambition in general, but that does not mean that the Netherlands agrees with every draft law."

What about the Green Deal?
The von der Leyen Commission was established on 1 December 2019. The main task for this committee is to combat climate change. For example, by 2030 CO2 emissions must be reduced by 55 percent (compared to 1990). Twenty years later, in 2050, Europe must be the first climate-neutral continent.

Large package of measures
To achieve these goals, the Green Deal was created. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is responsible for the Green Deal, which includes a large package of measures. Think of setting strict standards for energy-efficient buildings, but also of combating deforestation and making agriculture more sustainable.

From farm to fork
The Green Deal is often seen as a coat rack, on which more and more coats are hung. For example, the so-called Farm to Fork strategy was presented on 20 May 2020. With this Farm-to-Fork strategy, the EU wants to achieve two things in short. The first is that our food is produced differently. And the second is that we are going to eat differently.
Jouke Knol of LNV called the food transition "inescapable" during the knowledge session of the IRBC covenant for the insurance sector . In his lecture, he focused on the content and measures of the Farm-to-Fork strategy.

Clear transition

As far as Knol is concerned, the transition is clear. "The EU is moving towards an environmentally friendly, healthy and fair food system. This is broadly in line with the government's policy of which circular agriculture is a part."
The elaboration of the Farm-to-Fork strategy takes place mainly through legislation and national strategic plans. And, Knol comes back to it several times, it's a lot. "The Green Deal is an integral vision. Everything touches everything. Up to and including this year, there are already about sixty proposals that affect the policy area of LNV alone."

"The Green Deal is an integral vision. Everything touches everything."

Sharp objectives

The objectives that the European Commission wants to achieve with Farm to Fork can also be called substantial. Knol mentioned, among other things, crop protection products (-50%), manure/nutrients (-20/-50%), waste/loss of food (-50%), antibiotics (-50%) and organic (at least 25%). "It's mainly about the new legislation. In addition, the EU will work with other regions of the world to jointly shape the food transition."

En route

According to Knol, agricultural and food policy already has to meet many requirements, but there are also all kinds of measures on the way. "For example, crop protection, animal welfare, a better position for the farmer, sustainable fishing, sustainable food systems, soil health and fruit and food waste."
The list led to a question from Kees Vendrik, chairman of the steering committee of the IRBC covenant for the insurance sector and moderator during the session in Rotterdam: "There is so much going on. It is already almost top sport for the ministry to keep track of everything. How can the financial sector keep up with all this?"

"Put a sustainable dot on the horizon of the inevitable transition that has started"

Step forward

Knol recognizes this. "It's a lot indeed. But I do have some advice. I was recently at an interest group and noticed some reluctance. I indicated there that it is also possible to make the move forward. Put a sustainable dot on the horizon of the inevitable transition that has started. This advice actually also applies to insurers and other asset managers: invest in sustainable companies that are participating in this transition that is the result of future European legislation. This applies to companies throughout the food chain, including retail. An important part is the possibilities to replace soy with alternatives to animal feed."

In the third and final part of our series on the (inter)national food transition, Renze Brouwer of the Ministry of LNV speaks. He mainly discusses the National Protein Strategy. This third part will appear in our newsletter that will be sent out on 23 March. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up now!

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