Areas of Work

Energy is a subject that touches on a number of aspects of FAO’s work. The current work that FAO is undertaking to address energy-related issues can be broadly summarized in the following areas: 

Climate Change

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions along the agrifood chain are produced from the combustion of fossil fuels to run machinery, generate heat and electricity for food storage and processing, and from the use of petroleum fuels for food transport and distribution. Energy is essential for food security and development, but current food production and energy use patterns are unsustainable if climate change targets are to be met.  [more]

Crop Production

Increases in crop productivity achieved between the 1960s and 1980s are attributable to advances in sciences and the significant use of fossil fuel-powered farm equipment and machinery, intensive tillage, irrigation and chemical inputs. Modern mechanization, particularly in developed countries, has helped enhance productivity and production with the lowest cost.  [more]


The recent increase in food prices strengthened the perception that the global food system is inextricably tied to the price of oil. There is no single cause for the food price increases, but there is agreement that rising energy prices were a contributing factor. Energy and food systems are linked in two distinctive ways: the agricultural sector is an energy consumer and it is also an energy producer through bioenergy.  [more]


In both capture fisheries and aquaculture, a wide variety of technologies, from artisanal to highly-industrial, are involved in production and supply. These different technologies, which encompass vessels, equipment and culture systems, use a range of different types of energy and in varying amounts. Because of increased mechanization of fishing vessels and increased numbers of fishers, the intensification of aquaculture... [more]

Food Processing

A significant part of agricultural production goes through some degree of transformation between harvesting and consumption to make food edible and digestible. Energy is required to preserve food, reduce post-harvest losses and to extend the availability of food over a longer period. Limited access to energy is one of the challenges that must be overcome for small- and medium-sized enterprises to establish themselves in rural areas.  [more]

 Food Security

FAO projections indicate that by 2050 a 60 percent increase in food production over 2005-2007 levels will be necessary to meet the growing demand for food. And that this will largely come from increases in productivity. Furthermore, as populations expand and economies grow, the global demand for energy and water is also expected to increase by 40 percent.  [more]


FAO activities generate data and information to fill knowledge gaps realted to energy and gender, particularly in developing countries. This data will inform the economic and gender work done by FAO to strengthen the assessment of the role that energy consumption and energy production from bioenergy may play in agriculture, food security, decent work, gender and poverty reduction.  [more]


Cheap inputs, including feed grain and fuels, have played an important role in the rapid growth of the livestock sector. Declining grain prices have contributed to their increased use as feed, and lower transportation costs have facilitated the movement of feed and livestock products. However, recent increases in feed and fuel prices may signal the end of the era of cheap inputs. This will have profound implications on how the livestock sector will develop to meet future demands.  [more]


In recent years, wood energy has attracted attention as an environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil energy, especially in industrial applications for heat and power generation and co-firing for bioelectricity generation. A key priority is aligning energy policies so that the production and use of woody biomass for energy is based on what can be sustainably supplied.  [more]

last updated:  Thursday, March 28, 2013