Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

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    Investing for Sustainable Food Systems: Current Practice in Australia
    Carey, R ; Parker, C ; Robinson, E ; Sacks, G ( 2021-08-19)
    Summary • Food systems are a major driver of climate change, biodiversity loss, depletion of freshwater resources and pollution of waterways. • We examined the extent to which major institutional investors engaged in responsible investment in Australia consider sustainable food systems as part of their investment approach. • Nineteen out of 35 investors incorporated considerations related to sustainable food systems into investment decisions in some way. • We identified six strategies that investors used to incorporate sustainable food system considerations into their decision making. • The most common strategy used by investors was 'corporate engagement and shareholder action’ (using shareholder power to influence corporate behaviour). • The sustainable food system themes most commonly mentioned by these investors were ‘human rights’ (specifically labour rights in the food supply chain) and ‘animal welfare and anti-microbial resistance’. • Only one company, Australian Ethical, had a comprehensive policy on investment decisions related to sustainable food systems. • Examples of good practice included engaging with companies in relation to modern slavery concerns in the food supply chain, negatively screening intensive animal agriculture due to concerns about animal welfare and environmental sustainability, and investing in agricultural land to support a climate transition. • Future research will focus on engaging with investors to identify opportunities for progressing an investment agenda that promotes sustainable food systems in Australia.