The World Bank has today (Tuesday, May 7) launched ‘Recipe for a Livable Planet’ – the first comprehensive global strategic framework for mitigating agri-food system emissions.

It shows how the system that produces the world’s food can cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while continuing to feed the world.

One of the main messages from the report is that the global agri-food system presents a huge opportunity to cut almost a one-third of the world’s GHG emissions through affordable and readily available actions.

According to the World Bank, these actions will also have three key benefits – they will make food supplies more secure; help our food system better withstand climate change; and ensure that vulnerable people are not harmed by this transition.

Agri-food emissions

The report outlines that agri-food is a bigger contributor to climate change than many think. It generates almost one third of GHG emissions, averaging around 16Gt (gigatons) annually.

This is about one-sixth more than all of the world’s heat and electricity emissions. Three quarters of agri-food emissions come from developing countries, including two-thirds from middle-income countries.

The World Bank has said that mitigation action has to happen in these countries as well as in high-income countries to make a difference.

It is also necessary to take a food systems approach, including emissions from relevant value chains and land use change as well as those from the farm, because more than half of agri-food emissions come from those sources, according to the World Bank.


The framework acknowledges that the agri-food system is a huge, untapped source of low-cost climate change action.

Unlike other sectors, it can have an outsize impact on climate change by drawing carbon from the atmosphere through eco-systems and soils.

The payoffs for investing in cutting agri-food emissions are estimated to be much bigger than the costs, according to the World Bank.

Annual investments will need to increase by an estimated 18 times, to $260 billion a year, to halve current agri-food emissions by 2030 and put the world on track for net zero emissions by 2050.

Previous estimates show that the benefits in health, economic, and environmental terms could be as much as $4.3 trillion in 2030, a 16-to-1 return on investment costs.

Mitigation action in agri-food brings with it many other benefits for people and the planet, according to World Bank.

Among the benefits are increased food security and resilience, better nutrition for consumers, improved access to finance for farmers, and conservation of biodiversity.


The World Bank framework has determined that high-income countries, with their access to resources and technological know-how, can play a central role in helping the world cut emissions in agri-food.

It suggests that renewable energy in these countries should be encouraged and supported.

It is also recommended that high-income countries give more financial and technical support to low- and middle-income countries to help them adopt low-emission agri-food practices and build their capacity to effectively use new technologies.

The framework also urges high-income countries to decrease their own consumer demand for emissions-intensive, animal-source foods.

They can influence consumption by ensuring that the environmental and health costs borne by society are fully included in food prices, according to the World Bank.

These countries can also shift subsidies for red meat and dairy toward lower-emission foods, such as poultry or fruits and vegetables, it is suggested.

The framework also sets out actions that middle-income and low-income countries can take to also reduce their agri-food emissions.