Innovation, Technology and Data: Key to achieving energy and food security


Innovation, the complex process by which products, services and activities are renewed and brought up to date by applying new processes and introducing new technologies, is very relevant to agriculture. Innovation in agriculture cuts across all dimensions of the production cycle and along the entire value chain - from crop, forestry, fishery, or livestock production to the management of inputs and market access.

FAO focuses on a system-wide approach where  technological innovation is complemented with financing, good governance and social acceptance. Technologies and data have a key enabling role in piloting, accelerating, and scaling up innovations but none of this can happen without sufficient access to energy ‘from farm to fork’.  Energy to power agriculture must be clean and sustainable, in order to simultaneously achieve energy and food security for all and build back better in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within this context, FAO, UNIDO and UN-Habitat co-led the 4th Technical Working Group on the theme of ‘Innovation, Technology and Data’ as part of the preparations for the United Nations High-level Dialogue on Energy to be held during the UN General Assembly in September.  The report[1] of this working group highlights the need to make use of energy innovation, technology development and deployment, as well as improve data collection and use to achieve universal energy access by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

“FAO is very pleased to have co-led this report with UNIDO and UN-Habitat because energy innovations and data are key to addressing the challenges of energy and food security.  The transformation of both energy and agri-food systems is critical to meeting the growing global demand for food and energy, and to making them more inclusive, sustainable and climate resilient.”

Explained Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director of FAO’s Office for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment.

“Realising this transformation is crucial to achieving several SDGs, and to the successful implementation of FAO programmes such as the Hand-in-Hand and Green Cities Initiatives as well as the FAO’s COVID 19 Response and Recovery Programme.” 

He added. 

The report recommends that energy innovations and data should follow four key principles: 

  • Set an ambitious vision: Align innovation, policy, finance, and action with the achievement of SDG 7 targets by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
  •  Integrate sustainability: Ensure that social, economic, and environmental sustainability are considered in the design, implementation, and monitoring of energy innovations.
  •  Act locally: Ensure that innovations are customized to the local context so that energy innovations fulfil the needs and aspirations of local stakeholders and end users.
  • Leave no one behind: A diversity of needs, based on geography, gender, equity, age, and marginalized populations should be considered, and issues such as the digital divide, affordability, and capacity development should be addressed.


Further reading:

Article: How FAO is helping widen access to clean energy around the world

Report: Theme report on innovation, technology and data