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September 06, 2011
PRI Launches Farmland Initiative
    by Robert Kropp

Eight institutional investors join to develop the Principles for Responsible Investment in Farmland, to ensure that investment in farmland is sustainable and transparent.

In May of this year, the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) offered a sobering reassessment of previous estimates that the world's population will reach nine billion by 2050 and then level off.

New estimates now predict that the world population will pass ten billion by about 2080. Meanwhile, climate change is likely to lead to increased drought in much of the world, especially in developing countries where population growth will be the greatest. The net effect will be less land for food production, and many more mouths to feed.

Agriculture will have to become more sustainable to meet the needs of a growing world population. In an effort to ensure that investment in farmland accounts for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, the UN's Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) established a Farmland Working Group, which today announced five Principles for Responsible Investment in Farmland.

The eight institutional investors that launched the Principles include the US-based Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), and together represent $1.3 trillion in assets under management.

In endorsing the Principles, the investors agree to promote environmental sustainability, respect labor and human rights, respect existing land and resource rights, promote high business and ethical standards, and report publicly on their progress toward implementing the Principles.

Jose Minaya, Head of Natural Resources & Infrastructure Investments at TIAA-CREF, stated, "As the world faces the challenge of feeding 9 billion people, it is critical that new investments into agriculture are made with sensitivity to their environmental and social impact. The Farmland Principles express a strong commitment by long-term oriented investors to practice responsible investment as we seek to create value for our clients."


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