The UN Food Systems Summit has revealed the 15 action areas with more than 50 solution clusters that will serve as a key element to underpin discussions at the Pre-Summit gathering in Rome, Italy from July 26-28.
The Cool Coalition’s proposal on Power Community Cooling Hubs with Clean Energy has been selected as a game changing solution. You can read more about it here.
Each action area, developed by more than 500 members of the Summit’s five Action Tracks, represents a cluster of game-changing propositions that aim to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by transforming entire food systems.
The solutions, published on the online Summit Community, are an extensive menu of possible actions expected to support Member States as they work through national pathways for food systems transformation. They will also help inspire new coalitions and commitments from governments and their partners in all constituencies to support delivery of these pathways around the world, many of which will be formalised and announced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September in New York.
The solutions were refined from more than 2,000 ideas proposed during 18 months of dialogues, surveys and open fora with Indigenous Peoples, youth, producers, researchers, NGOs and governments, and represent key areas to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, from hunger and poverty to climate change.
Among the game-changing solutions are initiatives to reimagine school meals programmes as well as proposals to include the cost of a healthy diet when calculating poverty lines.
A Global Food Safety Indicator to monitor and reduce foodborne illness will also be considered along with a Responsible Meat initiative to incorporate environmental performance, working conditions and animal welfare into production and consumption.
Initial ideas for new partnerships include an Indigenous Peoples Food Systems Trust, a Coalition for African Youth in Agriculture, and a Food and Land Net Zero Country Alliance, in which countries would commit to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from food and land use by 2050.
Other solutions include the development of deforestation-free supply chains, and subsidies redirected towards sustainable production and consumption.
Explore the solution clusters on the Summit Community here.
Power Community Cooling Hubs with Clean Energy
Food saved is as important, if not more, as food produced. Food loss is not only the material loss of the commodity but also the loss of scarce and depleting input resources. Lack of effective cold-chain is estimated to directly result in losses of 475 million tonnes or 13% of total food production, which is worth $350 billion and enough to feed approximately 950 million people. However, cooling and cold-chains are both still perceived as a complication and typically remain too expensive for small-scale and marginal farmers. The technologies in use are also highly polluting due to the emissions from energy use (indirect emissions) and refrigerants with high climate impact.
Efficient and ozone- and climate-friendly cooling and cold-chain can only be achieved if the entire system is designed cohesively and an integrated systems approach is applied, which converges diverse cooling requirements across the farm-to-fork user-ecosystem. By combining a systems-level view of such community cooling needs, with new business models such as ‘servitisation’, Community Cooling Hubs (CCHs) are designed to affordably meet various rural community cooling needs, providing a pathway to efficient capacity utilisation of a financially viable, accessible, low-carbon cold chain and cooling development that serves not only to generate economic wealth but also better healthcare and nutrition in a sustainable manner.
Recognising the close linkages between access to cooling and cold-chain services and energy poverty, CCH is coupled with the Clean Energy Information and Coordination Platforms. These platforms identify and match synergies between the business case of energy companies interested in expanding clean energy grids and food chain actors that could pay for energy services by growing their business if given access to energy.
Considering all drivers and feedback loops within the energy system, the solution cluster’s systems approach will ensure that cooling and cold-chain services and grid expansion are supported by the broader energy landscape they are embedded in, interdependencies are understood and managed, and key components, including the financing and business models, work synergistically together.
Why will it work?
A multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral effort as an integrated approach is unlikely to emerge organically, posing risks to delivering our climate and development targets. Transforming the cold-chain sectors from farm to fork or ‘pharmaceutical manufacturer to arm’ and delivering access to cooling for all who need it sustainably requires a robust system-level model and multi-stakeholder coalition, collaborating at all levels to make it happen.
Community Cooling Hubs (CCHs) involve a systems-level approach with the design of sustainable cooling (and heating) services within an integrated energy, needs, and economics framework, ensuring flexibility and replicability with a smart combination and interconnection of energy vectors. CCHs are designed to serve the broad portfolio of a rural or peri-urban community’s needs for cold-chain and cooling in a highly accessible, efficient, affordable, resilient, and sustainable manner, hence contributing simultaneously towards the Agenda 2030, Paris Agreement-related Nationally Determined Contributions, and important aspects of the Montreal Protocol, including the Kigali Amendment and the Rome Declaration on the Contribution of the Montreal Protocol to Food Loss Reduction through Sustainable Cold Chain Development.
Given the ongoing demand for cooling for vaccination programmes that must be extended across the globe, CCHs are also intended to appropriately serve as last-mile storage and delivery spokes at each location in which they are established. They would provide much needed capability to expand an assured reach of vaccines to normally underserved regions and come into use as cold-chain nodes for the vaccination supply chain into rural areas.
Led by the Centre for Sustainable Cooling, the concept and underlying socio-techno-economic design of CCHs has been developed through rigorous market research and engagement between academic, development agency, end-user, and government partners. Deployment opportunities are being developed with the Cool Coalition Cold-Chain working group. Led by FAO, the Clean Energy Information and Coordination Platforms will connect energy companies and food chain actors that could pay for energy services, if given access to it, by growing their businesses.
The delivery, from demonstration to capacity building and skills training, is supported by new Centres of Excellence such as the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (developed with the support of Rwanda, UK, and UNEP U4E); Cool Coalition’s partners’ expertise, pilot projects, National Cooling Action Plan (NCAP) Methodology, and existing FAO work in several countries on de-risking investments in renewable energy for food chains through mapping best locations for investments and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of such investments.
The Cool Coalition will play a critical catalytic ‘systems integrator’ role, bringing together key partners across governments (such as UK, Denmark, Ghana, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and France), private sector, international organisations, and civil society. Under the Montreal Protocol, the Rome Declaration for Sustainable Cold Chain Development can serve as an important political framework for commitments and actions. It will also play a knowledge role in creating a compendium of best practices and providing assessment methodologies.