Regenerative Food Systems Investment Europe - Recap

Regenerative Food Systems Investment Europe took place from February 28-29 in Brussels, Belgium. The conference provided two full days of inspirational panels, thought-provoking discussions, and conversations over sustainably-sourced meals.

We are happy to provide a recap of our learnings from the two-day event, in an effort to share insights with those who couldn't be there in person and to continue the collaborative discussion.

The Workshop - Regenerative Impact Measurement

On RFSI Day 2, Proof facilitated an interactive workshop to review the findings from the Regenerative Agriculture Working Group convened in partnership with Trailhead Capital to establish the standard KPIs for regenerative agriculture - designed for and by regenerative trailblazers. The workshop included 50+ attendees, comprising farmers, founders, funders, and academics/researchers.

We started by defining the goals for regenerative impact measurement

  • Build Consensus: Identify leading regenerative agriculture KPIs to promote harmonization and deeper insights
  • Promote Ease: Avoid confusion and save time for farmers and founders by encouraging consistent reporting requirements across investors
  • Benchmark Performance: Establish a benchmark-able standard for regenerative agriculture investing
  • Build the Investment Case: Prove the link between regenerative practices and social/environmental outcomes and improved financial performance
Head to our Proof @ RFSI landing page to download the slides from the workshop.

The working group is focused on defining practice and outcome metrics for six core Impact Categories

  1. Expand the amount of regeneratively managed land
  2. Reduce atmospheric carbon
  3. Reduce food waste
  4. Conserve water - Coming soon
  5. Improve food nutrition and nutrient density - Coming soon
  6. Increase biodiversity - Coming soon

Key Takeaways - Regenerative Impact Measurement

1. Practice v. Outcome Metrics

There's a consensus on the significance of measuring both practice and outcome metrics. Practice metrics - for example, adoption of low-till/no-till or integrating animals - serve as early indicators of progress for farms transitioning to regenerative practices. Outcome metrics offer insights into longer-term impacts, such as increased Soil Organic Matter or Bulk Soil Density.

As the body of data grows, it is important to be able to connect the dots between which practice(s) more reliably lead to certain desirable outcomes.

2. Standardization v. Customization

Balancing standardization with flexibility is crucial, particularly concerning regional variations in indicators and certifications. While some metrics like nitrogen levels hold prominence in certain regions, other regions may emphasize different indicators of soil health.

ESRS, the organization developing the requirements behind the new CSRD legislation in the European Union, stipulates conducting double materiality assessments to prioritize impact reporting topics. We’ve designed the Proof platform around materiality, with a focus on core metrics industry-tailored KPIs to move beyond ESG and into impact.

3. Systems Change Indicators

Beyond on-farm impacts, there is growing interest in defining indicators that demonstrate systemic contributions of regenerative practices, such as mitigating wildfires and flooding. Drawing the connection between regenerative practices and systems change indicators can facilitate adequate compensation of farmers for the ecosystem services that they provide.

4. Supporting Farmers and Entrepreneurs

Bridging the gap between technical impact measurement frameworks and practical understanding is essential. Investors can support farmers and entrepreneurs to accurately and cost-effectively measure their impact through accessible frameworks and metric definitions, technical assistance, community-building to facilitate knowledge exchange, and access to technology tools. Investors should properly contextualize data requests, so that reporting companies understand how tracking the metrics will contribute to their own business outcomes such as capital raise and operating efficiency.

5. Linking Financial and Impact Metrics

Linking financial and impact metrics is crucial for channeling capital towards companies making meaningful strides in regenerative agriculture. To attract a diverse range of capital providers, it's essential to communicate effectively with institutional investors, who often prioritize metrics like agricultural yields and greenhouse gas emissions. However, it's equally important to educate these investors about the broader value of regenerative practices, such as their impact on biodiversity and nutrition.

Additional Questions for Consideration

Workshop participants brought up important questions regarding the Blueprint, including:

  • What other initiatives are working on harmonize regenerative impact measurement, and how can we facilitate collaboration?
  • How can consistent standards for carbon emissions measurement be established and enforced, particularly for complex metrics like carbon emissions avoidance?
  • Should metrics be weighted within the Blueprint based on importance or desirability?

Join Us

The RFSI conference provided a platform for meaningful dialogue and collaboration, driving forward the agenda of regenerative agriculture investment and its measurement. Here are ways to continue partnering towards our shared goal of fostering a more resilient and sustainable food system:

  1. Review the Regenerative Agriculture Blueprints
    1. Expand the amount of regeneratively managed land
    2. Reduce atmospheric carbon
  2. Join the working group to contribute your feedback on upcoming impact categories:
    1. Conserve Water
    2. Improve Food Nutrition / Nutrient Density
    3. Increase Biodiversity
  3. Measure with Proof
    1. Proof's digital platform offers full lifecycle support for regenerative agriculture funders and founders, from metric definition and framework alignment to reporting and storytelling, with the goal of building intelligent impact systems that grow with your data
    2. Request a demo here
  4. Join the Proof Sustainability Community of regenerative agriculture investors and entrepreneurs
Fill out THIS FORM to join the Proof Sustainability Community, provide feedback on the measurement blueprint, and contribute to future working groups.

RFSI Recap

To learn more about the event, read the 9 Key Take Aways from RFSI Europe by Sarah Day Levesque, Managing Director at RFSI, including a few of our favorite quotes from the conference:

“We need data to substantiate what we are doing and prove what we are doing, if we want to communicate at scale what we are doing... This is where we hope technology can play a role.” Hannes Van Eynde, Danone
“We shouldn’t use technology to trump nature, we should leverage it to advance regeneration.” Adele Jones, Sustainable Food Trust
“Agriculture is complex by itself and so a lot of the systems change work is always set as ‘it’s super complex and it’s so big’. The more we insist on how complex the thing is, the more people will say ‘oh, it’s not for me, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time.' You need to have a big vision and you need to be very audacious but then it’s a very practical approach of small steps in a day.” Anouk Schoors, The Nest