Everything that can contribute to doing good for the soil, to making agriculture respectful of ecosystems and to considering it as a solution to global warming and no longer as a problem (currently, 20% of emissions are due to it), is now their business. Axa, Unilever and Tikehau Capital announced on Wednesday that they had signed a memorandum of understanding to create “an impact fund dedicated to accelerating the transition to regenerative agriculture”.
The three partners undertake to invest 100 million euros each without waiting for other investors, whom they hope will be numerous to come and share their cause. In any case, enough for this fund to quickly reach the target size of one billion euros that they have set themselves. “We already have expressions of interest,” says Cécile Cabanis, Deputy Managing Director of Tikehau Capital.
This alternative asset management company, at the head of a portfolio of 35 billion euros spread over 13 countries, is at the origin in 2018 of a first private equity fund in the energy transition set up with Total, the -T2-. She repeated the exercise on Wednesday by taking on the global agrifood giant. A market in which Unilever today defends a position of “industry leader in sustainable sourcing practices, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of farmers around the world”.
A strong capacity for expertise
Regenerative agriculture and its challenges are therefore not a discovery for the Dutch-British multinational. No more than it is for Axa. The world leader in insurance and asset management aims to invest 26 billion euros in green assets by 2023. It has also set itself the objective of having 1.5 billion euros to deploy on forests and natural capital projects, soon to include regenerative agriculture.
“The three of us represent a unique set of expertise in the fields of industry, risk and finance to promote structural change in the financing of agriculture”, summarizes Cécile Cabanis. The fund, which will be managed by Tikehau Capital, has set itself the task of promoting projects that can make agriculture regenerative in three ways. First, by investing in practices that protect soil health, preserve water resources and participate in the fight against climate change, such as carbon farming.
The fund’s second area of intervention will focus on the development of the regenerative ingredients market. The objective is twofold: to meet growing global food demand and to provide increasingly sustainable products to consumers. Finally, the three initiators of this fund also intend for it to contribute to the progress of technological solutions which will make it possible to accelerate the great change before which agriculture can no longer retreat.