Energy is essential for food security and development. Finding green and resilient solutions that can support sustainable food system transformation and agricultural innovation is an integral part of FAO’s mission, and energy is a major component of this work.

The challenge is to disconnect fossil fuel use from food system transformation without hampering food security. To address this challenge, FAO supports countries and practitioners to find viable innovative energy solutions to build back better by establishing a pathway to green growth and One Health.

FAO’s Energy-Smart Food (ESF) programme aims to increase access to sustainable energy in food systems through innovative, green energy solutions that encompass improved energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy, increased circularity through waste-to-energy along agrifood chains, and a water-energy-food nexus approach.

ESF work addresses the needs of energy in agriculture by supporting the implementation of national and regional strategies, action plans, and programmes to achieve SDG targets related to poverty reduction, food security, sustainable energy, reduction of inequality, climate action and life on land towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the 2030 Paris Agreement. The programme also supports governments and other stakeholders’ announcing pledges to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

FAO’s Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate (ESF) Programme

The ESF programme is a multi-partner initiative that works with countries helping them move towards energy-smart agrifood systems that are less dependent on fossil fuels.
The ESF Programme includes the following work streams:

  • Energy in food systems, with an emphasis on renewable energy (INVESTA and EAAT tools)
  • Sustainable Bioenergy (BEFS, GBEP and IFES tools)
  • Sustainable access to energy for refugees and host communities in protracted crises

Key facts

  • 35 percent of the global population still lacks access to stable and sustainable forms of energy for cooking and heating.
  • Current food systems use about 30 percent of globally available energy, and this energy accounts for about 30 percent of agri-food systems greenhouse gas emissions because modern food systems are heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
  • 70% percent of the energy consumed by agri-food systems occurs after food leaves farms, in transportation, processing, packaging, shipping, storage, marketing, etc..
  • An estimated one-third of the food we produce is lost or wasted, and with it around 38 percent of energy consumed in food systems.
  • Nearly one in five people (1.4 billion) around the world do not currently have access to modern electricity services.
  • Approximately three billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, with adverse effects on health, the environment and economic development.