In our summer interview series we are featuring a number of experts who have recently spoken at the FOOD 2030 High Level Event in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and who all have their unique view on the food systems and the transformation it needs to become future-proof. Our second guest is Shiva Dustdar who heads the Innovation Finance Advisory Division in the European Investment Bank (EIB). She has been at the EIB since 2003, first in Risk Management, then in its Lending Directorate financing higher risk, innovative projects before joining the Advisory Services Department. Before EIB, she was Director of European High Yield at Fitch Rating Agency and worked at J.P. Morgan Investment Banking in New York and London. Dustdar holds a BA in Economics from Columbia University and an Executive MBA from London Business School.
Why is your specific area of expertise important in relation to food systems transformation?
My expertise lies in access to finance: I am by profession an investment banker with 25 years of experience in international finance. Over the last 10 years I have been involved in financing and advising innovative companies all over Europe and associated countries. I have also helped to develop new risk sharing financial instruments under InnovFin.
What is the single most important issue to be addressed to make our food system future-proof?
To make our food systems future-proof we need systemic thinking and a change in mindset across the entire ecosystem – including the financial community. We need to understand the interdependencies across the sectors and the need for business model innovation to go hand in hand with technological innovation.
What needs to be done to make the outcomes of Research & Innovation more impactful?
I believe that in order to make Research & Innovation outcomes more impactful, they need to be scaled up in order to reach their full potential. This will of course often require cooperation along the food value chain and innovative, fair ways of sharing risks and rewards.
What can FOOD 2030 do to help you and your colleagues?
It can increase our awareness and understanding of the key challenges ahead. The policy objectives of FOOD 2030 can be used to assess how EIB can support these objectives with its current financial products and where it needs to develop new ones. FOOD 2030 can also understand the level of investment readiness of new technological innovations and how their development can be accelerated with more public & private capital support.
Describe a relevant innovative good practice related to food and nutrition security in your neighbourhood/region.
A great case from Luxembourg (Dudelange) is the Cake Atelier, a company that has received a guarantee from the EIB Group (EIF). What started with a passion for cakes, evolved into a workshop in traditional pastry making and cake design for the young and the old. A new location, larger workshop, and more materials and stock were the results. This kind of scale-up is important.
As a citizen, how are you contributing to food systems transformation?
I regularly shop at farmer markets and make an effort to reduce food packaging and waste by buying in bulk using my own bags. I also buy fair trade and organic local produce whenever possible. I also educate my teenage children to be more conscious of food origins and the impact on climate change. In our family, we have reduced the meat intake considerably by having 1-2 days per week of meatless days.