The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has quadrupled its support for food systems development in the past decade from $409 million in 2010 to $1.2 billion in 2020 to help close the financing gap in ensuring food security.

“One of the most important lessons learned from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is the urgency of generating global awareness and building sustainable and resilient food systems which requires actions at many levels,” said ADB Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono during the launch of the Sustainable Food Webinar series on 16 March. “We definitely need to scale up public and private investments in green business, such as ecological agriculture, circular bioeconomy, eco-tourism, and pollution control.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased food insecurity risks, lowered the nutritional status of vulnerable populations, and highlighted the weaknesses of food supply chains and the delicate connection between food systems and development challenges. A large financing gap, estimated at $140 billion per year, also poses a barrier in transforming food systems.

In response to the findings of a recent ADB study on sustainable and resilient food systems, ADB is diversifying its investment portfolio to include food systems transformation, leveraging on private and public partnerships, and providing innovative knowledge solutions.

Through an Innovative Natural Capital Financing Facility under development, ADB will drive investments towards natural capital and provide knowledge solutions by using existing accounting tools to quantify the ecosystem service value of green agricultural value chain and strengthen eco-compensation, or payments for ecological services, to incentivize behavior change of small farmers.

Experts from ADB, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank, and other development partners joined the seminar along with representatives from civil society organizations, national think tanks, and independent scholars. The webinar was the first of the Sustainable Food Webinar Series in preparation for the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September and ADB’s Rural Development and Food Security Forum later this year.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.