Context: The Cold Chain can best be defined as the series of actions and equipment applied to maintain a product within a specified temperature range and other holding parameters while moving it from place of production to consumption.

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. Universal vaccine access is also a major challenge in various countries, mainly due to the lack of robust cold chains.

Outdated cold chain technologies and poor design, operation and maintenance lead to excess energy demand and refrigerant use and associated emissions of CO2, high-GWP and ozone depleting refrigerants and air pollution in all categories of cold-chain.

Countries that have made strong progress on immunisation programmes now face a far bigger challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic requires urgent expansion of vaccine cold chains to deliver mass vaccination in a concentrated period of time. The scale of this challenge is currently vastly underestimated by many countries and there is a strong risk of delayed and faltering vaccination programmes, cost-inefficiencies and a legacy of polluting, inefficient and poorly maintained cooling equipment.

Objectives: Provide guidance and advice to the Cool Coalition and its audiences to: access, interpret and understand the evidence to inform strategies, better identify the portfolio of opportunities, make judgements and provide advice about the potential technical and economic viability of pathways, understand requirements across research, skills and partnerships, and help catalyse test-beds and demonstration programmes for researchers and industry to co-develop, validate the real world performance and de-risk innovative decarbonisation / sustainable solutions.


– Co-Lead: Toby Peters, Professor, Cold Economy, University of Birmingham,

– Co-Lead: Satish Kumar, President and Executive Director, Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE),

– Facilitator: Sophie Loran, Cool Coalition Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),

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

Download the working group’s concept note here.