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Hanken School of Economics Part of a Major EU-Project to Make Agrifood Systems More Sustainable

Hanken School of Economics is part of a large EU-project that aims to generate new knowledge and tools on how to make agrifood systems more sustainable.

Demand for agricultural commodities in the EU are driving land use change in biodiversity-rich countries in for example Africa and Latin America, leading to major biodiversity losses.

“There are hundreds and thousands of organisms dying out, this loss is higher than ever. Biodiversity is fundamental for our agricultural systems, so we need to find more sustainable ways”, says Othmar Lehner, director of the Hanken Centre of Accounting, Finance and Governance.

Tackling the EU’s global biodiversity footprint is a top EU policy priority. There is a need for transformative change in economic, social, and financial models. However, the knowledge on how to achieve those changes in practice is limited.

The Horizon Europe project TC4BE, Transformative change for biodiversity and equity, has received over 2 million euros in order to find solutions. Hanken’s center of Accounting, Finance and Governance has been granted approximately 200 000 euros. The project is coordinated by the University of Wageningen, Netherlands and will go on for four years.

The project partners consist of European universities and partners from the target countries, including researchers from indigenous peoples’ communities.

“We couple producers from for example big cattle farms in Brazil and large monocultural farms in Kenya with the consumers in the EU to get the right tools to tackle biodiversity loss”, says Lehner.

The interdisciplinary project will have researchers from fields such as geography, biology, sociology and accounting. Hanken brings the accounting knowledge on how to measure sustainability.

“Hanken´s part is basically accounting for biodiversity: How can we improve the situation and measure success? How can we control and steer it?”

For this, Lehner and his team will further develop green biodiversity bonds as a way to help agricultural producers fund their transition toward more biodiversity.

“With this project, we want to target and support the regulators in the EU, to offer them knowledge on how to deal with these biodiversity issues, in order to make better decisions.”