Rockefeller Foundation invests US$11M to scale Indigenous and regenerative agriculture

10 Nov 2022 — During COP27, the Rockefeller Foundation announced more than US$11 million in grants to ten organizations scaling Indigenous and regenerative agriculture practices worldwide. According to the organization, the evidence clarifies the central role food systems can play in mitigating climate change.

The funding will help scale the development, data analysis, financing, and education around regenerative agricultural practices, which can improve global food systems and lessen the gravity of the global food crisis.

A boost for global food systems 
Regenerative agriculture, a process with roots in Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and food systems, takes a holistic approach to production that starts with the soil and includes the health of people, animals and the environment. 

These grants will establish the Foundation to rapidly scale regenerative approaches by 2030, from Indigenous agroforestry in the Amazon to carbon-market financing of smallholder farmers in Africa and elsewhere. 

“Regenerative agriculture offers a needed alternative to dominant, extractive food systems that have threatened people and the planet alike,” says Sara Farley, vice president of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Global Food Portfolio. 

US$11 million in grants will support strategies to end compounding climate, hunger, and malnutrition crises through changes to global food systems.“Our goal is to develop the know-how, networks and innovations needed to realize the full potential of regenerative agriculture at a moment of crises and climate change.”

Transitioning for change 
Food systems produce about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and agricultural expansion accounts for almost 90% of global deforestation. 

Conversely, new research finds that transitioning to more sustainable food systems could contribute about 20% of the global mitigation needed by 2050 to keep temperature increases below the 1.5°C target. 

This change could also improve the nutrition and health of 3.1 billion people who cannot afford a healthy diet.

“Food systems impact every person on the planet and the planet itself,” adds Roy Steiner, senior vice President for the Food Initiative at the Foundation. 

“Continuing to rely solely on conventional approaches cannot generate the profound shifts needed to improve food systems. Integrating traditional knowledge with other scientific and technological knowledge can transform food systems more resilient, nutritious and equitable.”

The flagship grant is to the Meridian Institute, which will expand upon the work of Regen10, a global coalition galvanized to answer the question of what it would take to produce 50% of the world’s food in ways that benefit people, nature, and climate by 2030. 

By bridging outcomes measurement with landscape-level demonstrations, Regen10 will support landscape leaders practicing or advancing regenerative agriculture to access financing, technical assistance and data.

In addition to its focus on regenerative agriculture, the Foundation’s initiative is revolutionizing the science of nutrition and working with governments to transition food procurement programs for school meals – which serve 388 million children globally – to whole grains and other healthy foods.

Edited by Elizabeth Green

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