32 Transforming Food Systems from Greenhouse Gas Sources to Sinks (S2S)


The global food system produces 21–37% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Efforts to reduce food systems emissions and enhance sinks generally focus on subsistence agriculture or commodity production and miss the national and domestic food systems that are primarily responsible for emissions in tropical countries.

It is difficult to set intervention priorities, track progress, and report impacts since national food systems are not well characterized and emissions are poorly quantified and not well linked to nutrition and environmental targets. Private sector action is stymied by misaligned incentives and lack of regulatory frameworks for emissions. Domestic policies support the pursuit of short-term profits in ways that externalize environmental costs of greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of long-term food system viability. Scaling up best practices to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity has been challenging, as the constraints faced are poorly understood or difficult to overcome and incentives are missing or misaligned.


This Initiative aims to:

    • Improve emissions quantification and monitoring systems.
    • Strengthen planning and coordination to integrate food system actions like reduced food loss and waste, efficient supply chains, reduced deforestation, and reduced production-related emissions.
    • Co-develop emissions reductions and carbon removals programs with communities.
    • Create enabling conditions through policy-maker engagement, providing studies and analysis, and co-developing tools to enable better informed, coherent decisions in alignment with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and provide trusted advice to governments.
    • Foster greater awareness of and buy-in to the potential for food system investments to contribute to low emissions climate-resilient development.


    Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

    1. Improved transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability, and consistency of data on food systems and their greenhouse gas emissions will be incorporated into national communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, reporting lags for greenhouse gas inventories will be shortened, and data will be used to target new NDCs.
    2. Subnational and national government agencies, civil society, and private sector planners will use tools, data, and analyses that were developed to design inclusive food-system emissions reductions and sinks initiatives.
    3. At least one living lab per country will be functionally engaged in piloting emission reductions and negative emissions activities, improving the efficiency of supply chains and reducing food loss with communities and jurisdictions and will have secured public and private sector financing for the adoption of mitigation and carbon sequestration measures.
    4. Analyses will have identified specific ways to increase adoption of effective and equitable food system emissions reductions and sinks that increase climate resilience. Multistakeholder platforms will ensure inclusive priority setting and widespread adoption in seven countries.
    5. Food systems approaches to low-emissions climate-resilient development will be high on the world’s political agenda. Decision-making that affects food systems will be based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflect the perspectives of developing countries, local communities, and marginalized segments of society.



    Food system emissions reduced across seven countries, representing a 7% reduction in global food system emissions, and achieved in ways that support climate-resilient development.


    Increased awareness of nutritious and low-carbon diets and transformative social norm changes toward sustainable consumption behavior catalyzed for approximately 20% of consumers per country. The Initiative’s ambition to halve food loss and waste will contribute to food security and environmental sustainability.


    Food sector livelihoods and employment improved by 20% from baseline, thus reducing poverty.


    Barriers for women, youth, and other marginalized groups to participate in and benefit from source-to-sink innovations identified and addressed, contributing to systemic equity and empowerment


    Reduced pressure on forests, wetlands, and other ecosystems; accelerated restoration; and curbed pollution, habitat loss, and fragmentation, all by approximately 20% from baseline projections, improving environmental health and biodiversity.


    For more details, view the full preliminary outline


    Header photo: A Climate-Smart Village (TeSAC – Territorio Sostenible Adaptado al Clima in Spanish) in El Bendito village, municipality of Olopa in East side of Guatemala. The villagers are from the chortí ethnicity and cultivate coffee and basic grains (maize and beans). Photo by J.L. Urrea/CCAFS.