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World Food Day Q3 2023

There is no food security without clean cooking

Credit: Peter Irungu for the Clean Cooking Alliance

Jillene Connors Belopolsky

Chief of Staff and Chief External Affairs Officer, Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA)

Food policy often overlooks the way families cook, but accelerating access to clean cooking is essential to ensuring equitable and resilient food systems.

Since 2020, the impacts of the climate crisis, Covid-19 and global conflict have doubled the number of people facing acute food insecurity to 345 million today. This challenge is exacerbated by high levels of energy poverty: 675 million people lack access to electricity; and 2.3 billion people lack access to clean cooking, relying on polluting open fires or inefficient stoves to cook their daily meals.

Impact of clean cooking

Each year, cooking with solid fuels and kerosene costs the world $2.4 trillion in damage to the environment and local economies, contributing to 3 million premature deaths and negatively impacting food production and security. Without investment in clean cooking and holistic food system reform, by 2030, 1.9 billion people will still be without access to clean cooking, and almost 600 million people will be chronically undernourished.

Reliance on polluting cooking fuels, like wood and charcoal, is a major contributor to climate change, negatively impacting ecosystems and agricultural yield. Burning solid fuels for cooking and heating generates more than half of human-made black carbon emissions, which has a climate warming impact that is 1,500 times greater than CO2. Up to 34% of global wood fuel is harvested unsustainably, contributing to forest degradation, soil erosion and biodiversity loss.  

Each year, cooking with solid fuels and kerosene costs the world $2.4 trillion in damage to the environment and local economies.

Scaling up clean cooking to improve food security

Switching to clean fuels, such as biogas, ethanol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and electricity, can significantly reduce emissions, global warming and environmental degradation, with positive outcomes for food production.

Clean cooking plays a vital role in food security, impacting the quantity, quality and nutritional content of food consumed. Inability to afford cooking fuel can lead households to skip meals or switch to less nutritious foods. Households transitioning to affordable, clean solutions demonstrate a shift to more diverse, nutritious diets. Multi-burner stoves can improve dietary diversity by enabling simultaneous preparation of multiple dishes.

Global food security cannot be achieved without reimagining a food system where clean cooking plays a central role in safeguarding climate and nature, improving nutrition and supporting livelihoods.

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