Energy-smart Food for People and Climate (ESF) Programme

Agrifood systems will have to become ‘energy-smart’ to meet future food and energy challenges. This will be achieved in the following ways in agrifood chain:
• Better energy efficiency;
• Increased energy diversification, with a gradual but steady emphasis on renewable energy; and
• Improved access to modern energy services through better integration of food and energy production. 

To help countries promote energy-smart agrifood systems through the identification, planning and implementation of appropriate energy, water, food security and climate-smart strategies that spur agricultural growth and rural development, in 2012 FAO has launched the multi-partner Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate (ESF) Programme. The ESF programme focuses on country action but also includes an international support component. This programme is a major contribution from the agrifood sector to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

Food security depends on ESF systems

It is clear that in our efforts to build a world without hunger, we will need more energy. FAO’s Energy-Smart Food for People Issues Paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the energy status of the food sector from the perspective of demand and supply. It examines in detail energy uses in each of the agrifood chain components and identified opportunities for implementing energy-smart approaches. The issue paper concludes that higher costs of oil and natural gas, insecurity regarding the limited reserves of these non-renewable resources and the global consensus on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, could hamper global efforts to meet the growing demand for food, unless the agrifood chain is decoupled from fossil fuel use.

Raising awareness and building the knowledge base

The ESF Programme is raising awareness about the dependency of global agrifood systems on fossil fuels, the implications this dependency has for food security and climate and the potential for agrifood systems to alleviate this problem by becoming a source of renewable energy. The Programme is also generating information to fill knowledge gaps.

Forthcoming publications include a global case study on the practical implementation of energy-smart practices in relation to the three thematic areas of the ESF Programme. The Programme is also working on defining an assessment framework to characterize the amount of energy used at different stages of the agrifood chain and determine the potential of the agrifood chain to produce energy. Another major ongoing activity is outreach to potential partners to establish a collaborative framework for gathering knowledge and mobilizing actions to address the energy-food security-water-climate nexus.

Building partnerships

The ESF Programme is part of major international initiatives. It is an essential component of climate-smart agriculture and will make a major contribution to the UN International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All and the Green Economy with Agriculture Programme in the context of Rio+20. The Programme also contributes to the broader UN Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) Initiative by focussing on the energy issues in relation to the agrifood chain.

While FAO and other organizations have been working on the ESF Programme for some time, scaling up the Programme will require more collaborative learning and action among other UN agencies, multilateral organizations, donors, policy-makers and the private sector. The Programme will establish a collaborative framework with relevant United Nations organizations, including the United Nations Develoment Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and with other partners, including, among others, the World Bank, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the IEA. Government organizations (such as USAID), research institutions, and non-governmental organizations will also be included in the collaborative framework. Participation from the private sector will be essential for the promotion of energy-smart approaches.

last updated:  Friday, November 22, 2013