Context: The food cold chain is critically under-developed in many countries, resulting in food loss and associated social, economic, nutritional and environmental impacts, impediments to rural development and resilience, and food safety issues. The amount of food loss due to lack of effective cold chain is enough to feed an estimated 1 billion people in a world where currently 811 million people are hungry (FAO 2021, IIF/IIR, 2021). Populations in many countries depend heavily on agriculture for their livelihoods, making cold chains a powerful tool to boost incomes and foster economic growth. It also has implications for climate change, responsible for around 4% of total global GHG emissions, including emissions from cold chain technologies and from food loss and waste due to lack of refrigeration (IIF/IIR 2021). Vaccine access is also a challenge due to the lack of robust cold chains in many countries.

In these uncertain times of political unrest, extreme heat events and the ongoing pandemic, the issues related to robust supply chain for food and health are even more critical; however, little focus has been given to identifying the scale of problem, and the necessary solutions. Most countries even lack data on the status of their cold chain infrastructure, needs and gaps, and are unaware of the full benefits of cold chain investments to help them in achieving food and healthcare security for their citizens. According to the 2022 UNEP-FAO Sustainable Food Cold Chain: Opportunities, Challenges and the Way Forward report some key barriers are related to a lack of systems-level thinking and integrated approaches; limited data and forecasts; lack of awareness and skills; lack of or unreliable energy access in developing countries; inadequate legislation and standards; lack of demonstration projects.

Objectives: The objective of the 2022-2023 Cold Chain Working Group is to support national governments build capacity on sustainable cold chain technology deployment and to create an ecosystem of stakeholders who can coordinate cold chain development comprehensively. These are key areas of action to tackle barriers to sustainable food cold chain according to UNEP-FAO report. This work will contribute to the target to reduce food losses by at least 25% set by the “Food is Never Waste Coalition”, one of the outcomes of the UNFSS (UN Food Systems Summit), and to strengthen the food-energy nexus as part of the just energy transition.


– Co-Chair:

  • Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director, Climate and Environment Division, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • Irini Maltsoglou, Natural Resources Officer, FAO

– Co-Chair: Kevin Fay, Executive Director, Global Food Cold Chain Council (GFCCC)

– Facilitator: Lily Riahi, Cool Coalition Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),