The Challenge

Protein sits at the nexus of multiple sustainability issues in the regionfrom the climate crisis to feeding a rapidly growing population. The way we produce and consume it has significant impacts on our climate, biodiversity and human health.

At first glance, global and local innovations focused on risk mitigation and supply security promise a more sustainable future, with a lower carbon footprint.

Yet, the current activities are too narrowly focusedwhile it remains critical to reduce carbon emissions and secure the supply of protein to meet growing demand in a way that can still produce affordable food at scale, we need to attend to a broader set of ecological and social impacts at the same time

The question is ‘how’ can we do that in a way that better supports a transition to a future-fit protein system in Southeast Asia that is just and regenerative? This will be key for achieving meaningful, sustained and resilient change in the decade ahead.

While there are multiple ways to approach this issue, the Protein Challenge Southeast Asia initiative focuses upon exploring the change agency of financial actors in enabling this transition towards a just and regenerative protein system. Their role in directing finance towards particular products and business models gives them leverage to shift norms and behaviours within value-chains. 

What is the future of protein in Southeast Asia? And how can financial actors enable transformative change to a just and regenerative protein system in a rapidly changing region?

Download the Case for Action Paper Now

Read the Executive Summary here

We have a key window of opportunity to reconfigure how the protein system might work for the better.

We are already seeing wide-ranging shifts and dynamism in and around protein in the region:

  • Emerging awareness of the global livestock industry’s role in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions: It is likely that policy measures will be in place to mitigate this impact, while obligations to manage ecological and social impacts will be placed upon those within the plant-based and alternative proteins sector
  • Changes in consumer preferences: New plant-based options are starting to scale, with a 440% increase in vegetarian and vegan product launches in Southeast Asia since 2016 
  • COVID-19 has highlighted the inequalities throughout food systems, value chains, and workers’ rights: Shifts in consumption patterns due to the pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown are also predicted to significantly impact demand for meat and fish products 
  • New protein innovation: This has piqued the attention of investors, with tech start-ups rapidly emerging, many of which focus on cultured seafood
  • Shocks to protein production are becoming more frequent, with significant consequences: Seen with the African Swine Fever outbreaks, which created immense difficulties for pork producers and resulted in high pork prices, significantly affecting demand

How can we achieve a future-fit protein system?

To realise the full potential of financial actors as transformative change agents, we must:

  • Set a collective vision for a just and regenerative protein system in Southeast Asia.
  • Generate recommended ambitious interventions designed to lift barriers toand unlock opportunities forenabling a transition
  • Catalyse prototyping in a range of opportunity areas to activate the system change process
  • Inspire other actors in the Southeast Asia protein system to collaborate

Help Us Make a Difference in the Protein System

The decisions key financial actors make today will shape the food landscape for decades to come. The way investors and financiers engage right now will have major implications not just for financial success, but for the very way the region produces and consumes its food.

This initiative will explore a number of key inquiry questions. How can financial actors…

  • Recognise their agencyand responsibilitythrough investment decisions to shape the system towards just and regenerative goals?
  • Move from individual deals in low-carbon protein or influencing specific company strategies, to building strategic portfolios which collectively leverage change in the protein system?
  • Incorporate a more holistic approach to screening and managing protein production and consumption impacts?
  • Reimagine value models to incorporate more than financial value in protein portfolios?
  • Respond to the need for a just transition as we shift the goals of the region’s current protein system towards just and regenerative ones?
  • Spearhead collective and collaborative approaches amongst a diverse group of actors to achieve transformations in the protein system? 

Join Us

Achieving this cannot be achieved by any one investor, NGO, innovator, policy maker or business acting alone. Achieving a just and regenerative protein system is a significant shift from business as usual. It requires a community of actors to refocus time, energy and resources to inquiry and exploration.

Together we can explore the future for the protein visionary to enable a just and regenerative protein system in Southeast Asiaone that generates environmental, social and economic value and is future-fit.

To find out more about joining the inquiry or to learn more about the Protein Challenge Southeast Asia initiative, please contact Madhumitha Ardhanari [email protected]