Unilever spearheads new impact fund for regenerative agriculture as IFAD campaigns for land restoration

UK – Unilever in partnership with AXA and Tikehau Capital is spearheading the creation of a new private equity impact fund dedicated to investing in projects and companies supporting the regenerative agriculture transition.

The British multinational consumer goods company and its two partners aim to invest €100 million (US$103.7 million) each and combine a unique set of industry, risk, and financial expertise to drive structural change.

The fund, to be managed by Tikehau Capital, will also be open to investors who wish to participate and benefit from this initiative, with a target size of €1 billion (US$1.03 billion), Unilever said.

Together, agriculture, land use, and deforestation represent the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions globally and the primary driver of biodiversity loss.

The companies are investing in regenerative agriculture practices as they believe they have the potential to reverse this trend and play a crucial role in addressing climate change and environmental challenges.

Pascal Christory, AXA Group Chief Investment Officer, and Antoine Denoix, Chief Executive Officer of AXA Climate, said: “Regenerative agriculture is a major ESG theme. This fund therefore aligns perfectly with our strategy of decarbonising the real economy through impact investments.”

Leveraging on the international network of AXA, Unilever, and Tikehau Capital, the fund is expected to be global.

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Impact objectives and measurement will be central to the way it operates and fully embedded in its investment strategy.

IFAD campaigns for investment in land restoration

Unilever’s commitment to regenerative agriculture follows the recently completed fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

At the conference, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) called for immediate long-term investments in land restoration and climate resilience to ensure global food security

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IFAD noted that the investments were necessary to help small-scale farmers protect and restore lands and ecosystems, build their resilience to climate change, and ensure long-term global food security.

Speaking at Conference held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, IFAD President, Gilbert F. Houngbo, said: “Food value chains need to be urgently put on a sustainable pathway.

We need to invest significantly more in ecosystems restoration and help small-scale producers who grow one third of the world’s food adopt the practices that will ensure healthy and productive lands, build resilience to climate change, provide a decent living and safeguard food security for all.”

Between 20 to 40% of land on earth is degraded, directly affecting nearly half of the world’s population and threatening roughly half of global GDP, amounting to US$44 trillion according to the UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook.

The report points out that poor rural communities, small-scale producers and indigenous peoples in developing countries are disproportionally affected by land degradation and desertification, as they are by climate change.

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