World Food Programme (WFP)

HQ: Rome, Italy


Key figures



Executive Director’s message

"WFP has long recognized that measuring and managing the environmental impacts of our work, including during emergencies, is an important act of stewardship. It helps us safeguard the livelihoods of people we serve: the hungry poor. Better environmental practices can also help to reduce WFP’s operating costs, allowing us to deliver better value for money as a trusted partner in the global effort to end hunger.

We know that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest people, especially women and children. I am determined that, as one of the first agencies on the ground in an emergency, WFP makes the most of opportunities to lead the deployment of innovative solutions and technologies in some of the world’s most marginal environments. WFP's Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction strategy commits us to cost-effective improvements in how we use power in our buildings, manage our vehicle fleets and minimise our travel. We will measure our progress every year against our 2008 baseline in order to track results in a transparent and accountable manner.

Ensuring an effective, resource-efficient WFP starts at the top, with me and our executive management team. I am committed to making WFP more environmentally sustainable and resource-efficient at the same time, and will work with WFP staff across the globe to embed sustainability into our operations."

Ertharin Cousin
WFP Executive Director


The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world's largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger. In emergencies, we get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, we use food assistance to help communities rebuild. WFP pursues a vision in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life.

Experience so far

• WFP has now completed six global GHG footprints (2008-2013), plus an HQ-only pilot in 2007.
• Reported emissions for 2013 were 8,117 tCO2e less than in the 2008 base year, representing a reduction over 5 years of 9.4%.
• Total emissions reported above show a slight increase from 2012-2013, however, with the inclusion of optional emissions, WFP’s footprint actually reduced by almost 1,000 tonnes. WFP’s optional emissions include those from chlorine-based refrigerant gases that also deplete the ozone layer. These are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol but are still widely used in many developing countries where WFP works. WFP will progressively phase these out through sustainable procurement practices that encourage the use of non-ozone depleting gases instead.
• WFP’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Strategy is now being revised and extended to meet a new goal for the period 2014-17. WFP aims to reduce emissions by 18% below 2008 levels by 2017.
• WFP operations globally continue to develop country-specific GHG reduction plans and establish environmental committees to address locally-identified issues.
• Unlike many other UN bodies, around 90% of WFP’s GHG emissions are from field operations. WFP has a presence in more than 80 countries: the 10 largest account for 57% of the total footprint.
• More than half of all emissions (54%) are from fuel used to run vehicles or power generators in offices, warehouses and guesthouses in remote areas. Diesel generators provide an estimated 40% of WFP’s electricity.
• Travel emissions, approximately 30% of WFP’s total, make up a much lower proportion than the UN average. While the number of flights taken was significantly above 2008 levels, the 2013 footprint was the first to show a reduction in emissions from commercial air travel from the previous year. Emissions from WFP-chartered freight and passenger aircraft account for the increase above, as WFP responded to multiple large-scale emergencies in late 2013.
• WFP reduction efforts prioritize cost-effective, practical actions that will reduce operating costs at the same time as reducing GHG emissions.

Reduction efforts

• WFP has established an Energy Efficiency Programme to part-fund energy-saving and GHG-reducing actions in field locations. Projects funded to date include energy efficient lighting installations, solar PV, hybrid generator systems, solar water heaters, and grid connections for remote sites. Seven completed projects are saving an estimated USD 288,500 and 632 tCO2e per year. Twelve new projects in 2014, spanning countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, are expected to save WFP USD 636,700 per year in lower energy and fuel costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a further 857 tCO2e.
• Staff awareness programs in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Dubai, Nepal, Rwanda, Sudan, Italy and Laos have promoted energy-smart habits such as switching off lights, computers and AC equipment when not in use, fitting timers, managing thermostats, and downsizing installed printer numbers.
• WFP sites in Sudan, Niger, Nepal, Ethiopia, Somalia and Chad have installed low-energy solar security lighting, replacing traditional floodlights of up to 500 watts each.
• WFP has installed 170 kWp of solar panels, saving an estimated USD 50,000 and over 100 tonnes of CO2e per year. Renewable energy systems are generally most cost effective in remote areas, where mains power is not available and costs for purchasing and transporting fuel are high.
• In Afghanistan, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Chad, WFP has invested in equipment to connect to newly established electricity grids, reducing reliance on generators and cutting CO2 emissions and costs.
• Through a joint tender with Rome-based agencies—FAO and IFAD—WFP has purchased certified “green energy” at HQ premises since 2009.
• A light vehicle driver training programme has, since 2009, trained more than 1900 WFP drivers from more than 50 countries in fuel efficient driving and improving vehicle maintenance, to reduce GHGs and running costs while optimizing vehicle safety. Other UN organizations have put a further 500 drivers through WFP’s programme.
• WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin launched a new travel policy in mid-2012 by pledging to reduce premium-class travel by senior management and promote remote conferencing by all personnel. 2013 inventory results showed a 46% reduction from 2012 on the number of business class tickets purchased.
• By rolling out new facilities management software (ARCHIBUS) using web-conferencing, WFP avoided an estimated USD 400,000 in travel costs and nearly 150 tCO2e. Similar technology allowed the offices of the ombudsman and evaluation to reach out, with near-zero emissions, to hundreds of staff globally who would otherwise not have been able to take part in interactive training programmes.


WFP will continue to focus on embedding energy reduction and sustainability measures into its operations to maximise savings and reduce GHG emissions in the long term, while exploring the cost-effectiveness of carbon credit purchases that might enable WFP to reach climate neutrality in the medium-term.


Water quality for our premises, wastewater management and preventing spills to groundwater during high-impact activities (such as construction) have been identified as priority areas for action during an Environmental Management System (EMS) Scoping Study.


Management of a range of waste streams has been identified as a priority area for action during the EMS Scoping Study. These range from office wastes (paper, recyclable packaging and toners) in developed country locations to remote area impacts including household refuse, vehicle workshop outputs (tyres, motor oil, batteries) and end-of-life disposal of food aid packaging, and assets. In 2014 WFP participated in a baseline assessment of waste management practices of UN agencies in developing countries. The study aims to allow sharing of knowledge and uptake of identified best practices in waste management across the UN family.

Next steps

• WFP has committed to developing a full Environmental Management System (EMS) to optimise resource efficiency, manage environmental impacts and reduce risks.
• A Scoping Study has identified principal areas of risk and reward. Noting that an EMS is a management framework, not just a reporting tool, the Environmental team, will engage with key internal and interagency stakeholders to take this work forward in 2015.

WFP case studies