'Food entrepreneurs earn from nature conservation'

Central theme during congress with partner WNF

Rabobank and the World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands (WWF Netherlands) organised the 'Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17: What makes a partnership successful?' congress in the auditorium of Rabobank Nederland’s campus in Utrecht on Wednesday, 5 July 2017. The congress focussed on the sustainable collaboration the bank and the environmental organisation entered into six years ago and the role of businesses in making food production more sustainable.

Rabobank and WWF Netherlands have been partnering to create a greener world since 2011. International projects that help bring about a sustainable food supply are undertaken with the help of local entrepreneurs. One of the key related aims is to demonstrate that economic returns and nature conservation are not mutually exclusive, but actually go hand in hand.

Harm Edens interviews Wiebe Draijer

The congress looked at the obstacles Rabobank and WWF Netherlands had to overcome along the way, the keys to success and what the impact and shared values mean to the different stakeholders. The congress moderator was Harm Edens, a well-known Dutch writer and broadcaster who presented the Dutch version of 'Never mind the buzzcocks' and is an ambassador of WWF Netherlands. The event kicked off with Harm Edens interviewing Rabobank Executive Board Chairman Wiebe Draijer and WWF Netherlands CEO Kirsten Schuijt about their vision on the partnership. Wiebe Draijer added a third important party to the collaboration: "The entrepreneurs who are in daily practice of preserving food production." On behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, Kirsten Schuijt spoke about the impact Rabobank can achieve in global food production. "That's an important reason why WNF wants to work together with Rabobank."

Biodiversity monitor

The biodiversity monitor, which is the result of collaboration between Rabobank, WWF Netherlands, FrieslandCampina, dairy farmers and other stakeholders, was also presented at the event. It provides dairy farmers with insight into the benefits the environment offers them. It is consequently a win-win situation because sustainable management enables agricultural entrepreneurs to lower their operating costs, whilst at the same time letting them gain lower interest rates, a better market price or more advantageous lease conditions. The organisations have also stated their intention to research the possibilities for rolling out the monitor in other sectors as well.


The remainder of the programme was devoted to speakers who shared their vision on the sustainability theme. For example, filmmaker Rolf Winters explored the vulnerability of our planet and Forest Solutions Group Director Matthew Reddy showed how sustainable development goals can be a guideline in determining business objectives.

Marieke de Wal of Erasmus University’s Partnerships Resource Center presented the harvest of projects from the Rabobank-WWF Netherlands partnership. An important reason for the success is the early alignment of the involved organisations’ interests. This has laid a solid foundation. Now it is about scaling up and rolling out the developed instruments. 

A panel discussion examined the realisation of future-proof agriculture. The range of WWF and Rabobank projects came to life in interactive workshops with local entrepreneurs.

Bas Rüter: "An important purpose of the day was to present our joint classes and inspire others and invite them to participate. After witnessing all the responses, this goal has certainly been achieved."

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