FAO’s work on energy involves enhancing knowledge and supporting member countries to move towards using energy-smart agrifood systems through five areas of work. The energy-smart approach refers to methods and technologies that optimize the use of efficient and sustainable energy in different settings. Energy is needed at every stage of this chain. Energy-smart agrifood systems can also be used to produce energy and therefore offer a way to take better advantage of the dual relationship between energy and food. 

The Energy-Smart Food (ESF) Programme directly contributes to FAO's Strategic Programmes (SP): 
- Energy needed to ensure food security
- Technologies related to climate-smart agriculture
- Addresses energy poverty in rural development 
- Directly contributes to the development of green and inclusive food value chains
- Contributes to safe access to sustainable energy in emergency/rehabilitation settings

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 four pillars of the ESF programme form the overall framework of FAO’s work on Energy:

  • Access to modern energy services in rural areas
  • Energy efficiency in agrifood systems
  • Renewable energy in agrifood systems
  • Application of a water-energy-food nexus approach

Key facts

  • Food systems currently consume 30% of the world’s available energy.
  • 70% percent of the energy consumed by food systems occurs after food leaves farms, in transportation, processing, packaging, shipping, storage, marketing, etc.
  • Energy is responsible for about 35% of GHG emissions from agrifood chains (excluding those from land use change).
  • An estimated one-third of the food we produce is lost or wasted, and with it an estimated 38 percent of energy consumed in food systems.
  • Modern food systems are heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
  • 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.