The World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Soil Investment Hub – the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) platform for investment in the soil – published its “Soil Investment Guidance Report” in December 2021.
It’s a guide to investing wisely in soil health and is the outcome of a study based on publications by the FAO and other international organisations, along with interviews with 40 companies that belong to the WBCSD and other external organisations, including representatives from key sectors such as academia, farming, NGOs and global networks. One of the bodies contacted was the 4X1000 Initiative.
The report aims to support food and agriculture companies to invest in impactful, high-value, and long-term solutions for healthy soils along their supply chains and beyond. There are three pillars on which to build climate-smart agriculture: productivity, resilience, and mitigation. Starting from these assumptions, the document identifies 13 investment mechanisms that have clear connections to material impacts and different types of financial, environmental, and social return. The guidance aims to standardize the classifications of soil as a value-chain asset and provide a portfolio of soil investment mechanisms that can be prioritized to scale healthy soil solutions. Therefore it suggests investing in soil not for financial gain, but because of its intrinsic value in relation to sustainable development goals.
It is interesting to note the concern with avoiding the possibility of these investments – made by multinationals or big national companies – being seen as a form of greenwashing. It is no accident that the report stresses the importance of taking account when investing of social aspects such as humanrights and social and environmental justice. On the other hand, such doubts are not surprising when we see the list of companies mentioned as examples in the document: Bayer, Cargill, Danone, General Mills, IDH, MIMTA, Nestle, OCP, PepsiCo, Rabobank, Unilever, UPL, Walmart.