Understanding the role of banks in overcoming financial barriers to agroecological transitions from a systems thinking perspective.
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Intensive agricultural practices have contributed to global sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, soil degradation, food insecurity and groundwater pollution (Skaalsveen et al., 2019; El Bilali & Allahyari, 2018; Xu et al., 2018; Leip et al., 2015; Postel, 2000). Agroecology, a pathway to “green” agriculture through the application of ecological principles, has been proposed to increase the sustainability of food- systems and agriculture (Gliessman, 2018). The problem central to this research is that financial barriers hinder systemic transition of agriculture towards agroecology (Anibaldi et al., 2021). The financial barriers established in the literature are insufficient economic (dis)incentives, lacking transition funds, and limited access to finance (Vermunt et al., 2022). This research seeks to understand what practical solutions or innovations can be implemented by banks to overcome these barriers, and gain insights as to the systematic transformation potential of banks towards agroecological transitions. To do this, two banks were selected, Rabobank and Triodos, and key stakeholder groups therein were identified. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed to establish existing and proposed solutions to the financial barriers. The Motivation, Capability, Implementation and Results (MCIR) framework was subsequently employed to analyse the adoption of solutions and innovations within the banks (Chai & Yeo, 2012). Comparative analysis of the banks resulted in inter-organisational and field-wide learning opportunities. The analysis identified 19 solutions and innovations across both banks, 10 within Rabobank, and 9 within Triodos. There were substantial differences in the solutions of the banks, attributed to differences in organisational form, values and principles, and bank size. Through implementation of the MCIR framework, shortfalls in overcoming the systemic barriers within the banks were established.