Unlocking the Power of Water: FoodShot Global’s Vision for a Sustainable Future

Unlocking the Power of Water: FoodShot Global's Vision for a Sustainable Future
The FoodShot Global team. From left: Rajiv Singh, Victor Friedberg and Sara Eckhouse. Image credit: FoodShot Global

Unlocking the Power of Water: FoodShot Global’s Vision for a Sustainable Future

In the grand tapestry of our world’s resources, one element often overlooked, undervalued, and yet profoundly essential is water.

Its intrinsic role in the agrifood system remains vastly underestimated and underfunded, even as it stands as a linchpin in the sustainability of our food production.

Recently, the multistakeholder investment platform, FoodShot Global, made a resounding declaration by spotlighting water as its latest challenge area for entrepreneurs and researchers. Their decision stems from the disquieting reality: while the Earth’s surface is enveloped by 70% water, a staggering quarter of the global population faces acute water stress. By 2050, an additional billion people will confront this scarcity, indicating a looming crisis of monumental proportions.

A stark revelation emerges as one delves deeper: over 70% of the Earth’s freshwater is channelled into agriculture, supporting the sustenance of three billion people who rely on aquatic foods as their primary source of protein. Yet, this vital resource is imperilled by industry pollutants like nitrogen runoff, microplastics, oceanic acidification, and rising temperatures, gravely threatening the aquatic food systems we depend on.

Sara Eckhouse, the Executive Director of FoodShot Global, underscores this interdependence, asserting, “Through water, the future of both our land and aquatic foods are inexorably linked.” In this recognition, the organization has launched “Water: the Essential Input” as their fourth ‘FoodShot,’ dedicated to nurturing innovations that safeguard water’s pivotal role in food and agriculture.

The approach adopted by FoodShot Global goes beyond mere acknowledgement; it champions actionable solutions. The platform facilitates an application process, rallying a consortium comprising venture funds, corporations, universities, and non-profits. Together, they commit up to $10 million in equity capital to trailblazing companies, alongside a ‘GroundBreaker Prize’ of approximately $500,000, reinforcing research, entrepreneurial initiatives, and policy advocacy.

Eckhouse delves into the holistic view required to comprehend water’s significance, paralleling the evolving understanding of food as a complex ‘system.’ She advocates for a paradigm shift, urging a comprehensive approach that encompasses land, waterways, and oceans in managing this indispensable resource.

Moreover, the latest FoodShot initiative seamlessly integrates water cycles with the realms explored in prior endeavours: soil health, precision protein, and bioactive foods. This confluence reflects a visionary strategy to address the interconnectedness of these crucial elements in sustaining our global food systems.

Despite historical hesitance in investing in water-related ventures due to its complex nature crossing multiple boundaries, the landscape is evolving. Eckhouse highlights a marked shift, with the emergence of over 18 ocean-focused funds in the past 18 months, signifying a growing impetus towards addressing water-related challenges.

Public investments are also gaining traction, evident through legislative acts such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the US and initiatives spearheaded by the World Bank. Simultaneously, endeavours like the Valuing Water Finance Initiative seek to elevate water as a financial risk, wielding influence with 64 institutional investors overseeing $9.8 trillion in assets.

“Water: The Essential Input” holds a laser focus on solutions that combat climate-induced threats to the water cycle in food production. It aims to counter overuse, contamination, and unsustainable aquatic food practices. The initiative’s objectives span a diverse spectrum, including enhancing soil’s water retention, bolstering crop resilience, harnessing waste-to-value technologies, and innovating wastewater and fertilizer repurposing.

Eckhouse underscores the imperative for equitable access to aquatic food and wealth creation, recognizing the disproportionate burden borne by marginalized communities due to water scarcity and pollution. The initiative remains steadfast in its commitment to learning from indigenous communities’ sustainable practices, ensuring their invaluable contributions are acknowledged and integrated into forward-thinking solutions.

Ultimately, the aim of FoodShot Global’s endeavour extends far beyond the confines of profitability. It aspires to fashion a food system that transcends socio-economic boundaries, nurturing health and environmental well-being for all inhabitants of our planet.

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