FAO Tool Assesses Options for Integrated Food-Energy Systems

FAO7 April 2014: Seeking to systematically evaluate under which conditions bioenergy production does not threaten food security, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has developed a tool to assess scalable opportunities for the sustainability of integrated food-energy systems.

FAO proposes the application of good practices of bioenergy production, including the use of integrated Food-Energy Systems (IFES). As a result, it has produced a guidance document that helps to screen IFES options systematically.

The IFES concepts brings together multiple-cropping systems that mix annual and perennial crops and combine livestock and/or fish production. FAO notes that renewable energy can be produced through gasification, anaerobic digestion, or combustion of by-products. The IFES approach builds on locally-devised and adapted practices to ensure sustainability. However, FAO acknowledges that IFES has not been brought to scale, hence the need for the FAO's screening tool.

The tool introduces a set of criteria, indicators and measures to screen IFES projects, followed by a series of questions related to opportunities to scale IFES cases. This will help practitioners identify which policies and tools can be put into place to create an enabling environment for IFES. The guidance document is targeted to policy and decision makers. The IFES framework will be tested with interested FAO countries through the 'Development of an analytical framework to assess IFES' project. [Publication: Evidence-based Assessment of the Sustainability and Replicability of Integrated Food-Energy Systems]